Kidneys act as chemical factories in the human body, and they take care of the most important functions. Your kidneys regulate and filter minerals from your blood and maintain the overall fluid balance.
These organs filter waste material and release hormones necessary for the production of red blood cell. The process also affects your blood pressure and bone health.
Kidney malfunction affects the organs’ ability to filter waste products, and results in chemical imbalances. In these cases, a transplant is the only solution. Unfortunately, the list of patients waiting for a transplant is really long, and over 100,000 people hope to get theirs. The average wait-time for a kidney transplant is 3-5 years.
What can patients do? Dialysis is the only solution to this problem. Being on dialysis for the rest of your life is the least ideal solution. The average life expectancy is 5-10 years. Every day, 13 people wait for a kidney transplant.
Scientists are still working on the solution to this problem. The Kidney Project may be really close to this solution. It was launched by William Fissel from Vanderbilt University and Shuvo Roy from the University of California, San Francisco.
The final product is an artificial kidney comprised of a blood filtration system (hemofilter) and a bioreactor, which has cultured human kidney cells.
The invention uses living kidney cells and 15 specialized microchips regulated by the heart perform all the functions healthy kidneys have.
Living kidney cells grow around the chip, and imitate a real organ.
“The implantable bioartificial kidney is an alternative to dialysis and other externally wearable devices that would tether patients or limit their mobility,” Roy explained.
“A live kidney transplant from a matching donor is still considered one of the best treatment options for ESRD, but unfortunately, there is a shortage of organ donors that prevents transplants from being available to the vast majority of ESRD patients.
Unlike transplants, our device will not require that patients be on immunosuppressive drugs to prevent rejection.”
Patients get the artificial kidney through a common surgery. This method works better than dialysis, and provides more efficient results.
Roy explained that long-term challenges of the new kidney “center around keeping the device operating trouble-free after implantation beyond a few months.”
The project received a $6 million in government grants and donations from individuals.
“Their support is a testament to the acute need for a revolution in ESRD treatment, and the donations we have received are invaluable in allowing our research to progress.”
Hopefully, the new invention will target the organ shortage crisis, the need for dialysis treatment and national health care expenses.