Continuously Functioning Artificial Kidney on the Way
By Megan Rauscher
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Sept 15 -
Using nanotechnology, researchers have created a human nephron filter, the first step toward development of fully functioning artificial kidney for patients with end-stage renal disease, possibly eliminating the need for dialysis or kidney transplantation. The device is small – about the size of a paperback book – and therefore portable or
In the September issue of Hemodialysis International, Dr. Allen R. Nissenson, of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles and colleagues note that the equipment consists of two membranes operating in series within one cartridge. The first membrane mimics the function of the glomerulus and the other mimics the function of the renal tubules.
As Dr. Nissenson told Reuters Health, “a connection to the bloodstream is necessary, which allows blood to flow into the device. In the device, it is filtered and processed by the membranes, with waste and water being discharged into a bag – the external bladder – to be discarded, and important substances like salt, calcium, and nutrients returned to the body.” In its final form, the device would operate continuously, imitating natural kidneys. No dialysis solution is used.
The researchers found that in computer models, operating 12 hours per day, 7 days per week, the nephron filter provides a glomerular filtration rate equal to 30 mL/min, compared to half that amount for conventional thrice-weekly hemodialysis.
Dr. Nissenson emphasized that work on the artificial kidney is “now just past the conceptual phase. We have done extensive computer modeling to predict how the device should work, and we have begun to construct the necessary membranes.” “Future work,” he added, “involves producing a complete membrane, incorporating it into the device, and testing the function on animals, before human trials can begin. This next phase of work is expected to take 2 to 4 years, with
clinical work possibly starting by 2010” he said.
Hemodialysis Intern 2005;9:210-217.