The world’s first implantable artificial kidney is created by scientists to aid patients to keep off of dialysis. Once all research is successfully done, the device would be of great help for many patients dying from the shortage of kidney donors.
Medical researchers from Vanderbilt University developed the technology that uses both nanotechnology and living cells. No external power source is needed as well since it is functioned by the patient’s heart.
Technology Behind Hybrid Kidney
Kidneys are tasked to remove waste products, salts and excess fluids from our body through urine. When our kidneys fail to function, dialysis is needed to take over its duties.
But with the latest nanotechnology developed, dialysis might no longer be needed as an artificial kidney can potentially be implanted in the patient’s body that functions like a real kidney. It is made possible with the advancement of microchips that use silicon nanotechnology.
Team lead Dr. William H. Fissell IV said the silicon nanotechnology uses the same mechanism with “microelectronics industry for computers.” Moreover, they are affordable and accurate which makes the microchips ideal for performing as a filter for the body.
Stacked on top of each other, the 15 microchips used in one device will work with the living kidney cells. According to Fissell, the hybrid kidney can then “reabsorb nutrients” needed by the body and discard the harmful ones just like how the real kidney does.
Solution For Shortage of Kidney Donors
While the device is still under development, they were able to solve a problem for a possible blood clot. With the help of biochemical engineer Amanda Buck, they refined the channels of the device to allow a smooth blood flow on the medium.
For the meantime, more clinical studies are needed to be done which is scheduled to start this year. Its potential is simply remarkable especially for the patients who have long been on the waiting list for a kidney donor.
In the U.S. alone, 13 patients die each day while waiting for a kidney according to the National Kidney Foundation. This only shows the demand for organ transplants is too high to be provided for everyone one who needs it.
The artificial kidney would be of great help to mitigate the shortage of kidney donors. When approved, the device can assist many patients independently while no longer relying on dialysis.