artificial kidney

The artificial kidney will be the size of a coffee cup. Blood will be pumped through microscopic filters using the body’s own blood pressure.

An artificial kidney that would be implanted inside the body and work as well as a living organ is just around the corner, scientists have revealed.  U.S researchers have just unveiled the first prototype model of the device, that could eliminate the need for dialysis.


It would include thousands of microscopic filters to remove toxins from the blood and a bioreactor to mimic the metabolic and water-balancing roles of a real kidney.

The kidney is being developed in a collaborative effort by engineers, biologists and physicians led by Dr Shuvo Roy at the University of California San Francisco.

The treatment has already been proven to work for the sickest patients using a room-sized external model.

The process relies on the body’s blood pressure to perform filtration without needing pumps or an electrical power supply.

Dr Roy plans to apply silicon fabrication technology, along with specially engineered compartments for live kidney cells, to shrink the current device to the size of a coffee cup.

Tissue engineering will be used to grow renal tubule cells to provide other biological functions of a healthy kidney. This would remove the need for immune suppressant medications after it was implanted, allowing the patient to live a more normal life.

‘This device is designed to deliver most of the health benefits of a kidney transplant, while addressing the limited number of kidney donors each year,’ said Dr Roy

‘This could dramatically reduce the burden of renal failure for millions of people worldwide.’

In the UK, there are less than 2,000 kidney transplants carried out each year – which  is less than one in three of the patients waiting for a donor kidney. 

The alternative treatment for kidney failure is dialysis. A patient will have their blood filtered in three long sessions a week. It is exhausting for patients and only replaces 13 per cent of kidney function. .

There are just over 45,000 adult patients receiving dialysis in the UK. Only 35 per cent of patients survive for more than five years with this treatment.

The team has established the feasibility of an implantable model in animal models and plans to be ready for clinical trials in five to seven years.

Via Daily Mail