More people die from kidney disease than from breast or prostate cancer each year. Many of these deaths could be avoided if the patient had a kidney transplant, but there is a shortage of donors.
The next best option is dialysis, but it is quite a complicated procedure as the patient has to visit a dialysis unit at regular intervals.
However, a new alternative is on its way. Researchers in the United States have created an artificial kidney that functions as a normal kidney and is also possible to perform surgery on whilst in the body.
The artificial kidney contains filters that purify the blood and sends the purified blood back into the bloodstream. Just like a normal kidney. The kidney is completely driven by the patient's blood pressure so no external source of power is required.
Less risk of organ rejection
Another advantage is that it is made of material that does not activate the immune system. There is thus no risk that the body will reject the new kidney. Those who undergo a kidney transplant often have to take immunosuppressive drugs, but those who receive the artificial kidney will not need to do so.
The artificial kidney is so far only a prototype, but the researchers will now proceed by taking it to clinical studies. The research group led by Shuvo Roy, PhD of UC San Francisco and William Fissell, MD of Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) recently received a prize of $ 650,000, which is expected to facilitate the continued development of the kidney.