Renal Failure :: Nano for artificial kidneys

Nanotechnological filters could lead to wearable or implantable artificial kidneys.

Animal studies for artificial-kidney prototypes should begin one or two years from now, and clinical trials would follow a year or two afterward, reported scientists at Biophiltre in Burlingame, Calif., the medical-device company developing the artificial-kidney technology.

Nearly 900,000 patients worldwide suffering from kidney disease require dialysis, a medical procedure mimicking the kidney’s normal function of filtering waste from the blood.

Conventional dialysis requires a customized fluid that waste from a patient’s blood can diffuse into. “This requires a reservoir of fluid and a way of pumping fluid through the device, which makes a wearable system almost impossible,” Nissenson explained.

Biophiltre is developing a filter that mimics the function of the human kidney, which does not require such fluid. This device basically consists of two membranes. One membrane, dubbed the G, imitates the glomerulus, which in the kidney sieves all molecules out from blood, leaving behind mostly water. The other, named the T, mimics the renal tubule, which in the kidney sieves the molecules filtered out by the glomerulus to reclaim as many of the compounds that belong in blood as possible.

In computer models where the device operated 12 hours daily, it provided double the filtration of conventional dialysis. The researchers presented their findings in the journal Hemodialysis International.

One concern is the device cannot manufacture bicarbonate as real kidneys can to keep bodily acidity levels in check. Nissenson said patients using the device might need bicarbonate tablet or fluid supplements.

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