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Implantable Kidney may Replace Dialysis

May 22, 2020 by Smiti Munwani

Kidney failure impacts millions and dialysis is usually the only treatment currently available as donor kidneys for transplant are in short supply. Dialysis has to be done regularly in a hospital setting, increasing costs, and affecting the quality of life of the patient.

Recently William Fissell, MD, and his colleagues, while working on The Kidney Project at Vanderbilt University, bioengineered an implantable universal donor kidney. This can take the place of a donor kidney and dialysis, making life easier for kidney failure patients.


The bioengineered kidney uses a silicon filter and kidney tubule cells to filter one liter of blood a minute. The filtration process is two-fold: the first filtration contains water, electrolytes, sugar, and toxins. The second filtration goes through the bio-similar tubule cells that remove sugars, salts, and water and takes them to the bloodstream. The rest of the waste products, including toxins, are sent to the bladder to pass out of the body as urine.

Thanks to pharmacological manipulations such as adding metformin and inhibiting TGF-beta, the salt and water transport is carried out more efficiently by the tubular cells.

The researchers call this "a breakthrough step making achieving an implantable artificial kidney device possible." If the device can be successfully used, it can make the life of patients of kidney failure and end-stage renal disease, much easier and more normal.


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