The following article, Artificial Kidney That Frees Patients From Dialysis Close To Completion, was first published on Flag And Cross.
An artificial kidney that frees sufferers from dialysis took a step closer after scientists developed an implantable bioreactor that mimics the organ’s functions.
The device, which has so far been implanted in pigs, didn’t trigger the animal’s immune system – a major stumbling block for transplants.
It could end dialysis, which severely disrupts quality of life and also the harsh immunity-suppressing drugs if a patient is lucky enough to get a transplant.
At present more than 30,000 people in the UK receive regular dialysis, where their blood is filtered by a machine. This keeps them alive until a transplant organ becomes available.
Approximately 2 in 1,000 Americans are living with end-stage kidney disease (ESKD)—kidney failure that is treated with a kidney transplant or dialysis, according to the NIH.
For the first time, researchers at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) have managed to house kidney cells in an implantable device called a bioreactor.
The cells mimic kidney function, working in the background like a pacemaker does for the heart, with no sign of triggering an immune system attack.
The Kidney Project at UCFS has now proved the device can work.
The next step is to fill the bioreactor with different kidney cells that can mimic all the functions such as balancing the body’s fluids and releasing hormones to regulate blood pressure.
When they can pair it with a device to filter waste from the blood, then an artificial kidney will be born.
Dr. Shuvo Roy, a bioengineering professor at the UCSF School of Pharmacy, said: “We are focused on safely replicating the key functions of a kidney.
“The bioartificial kidney will make treatment for kidney disease more effective and also much more tolerable and comfortable.”
Prof Roy added: “We needed to prove that a functional bioreactor will not require immunosuppressant drugs, and we did.
“We had no complications and can now iterate up, reaching for the whole panel of kidney functions at the human scale.”
The aim of the study, published in the journal Nature Communications, is to produce a human-scale device to improve on dialysis.
The team engineered the bioreactor to connect directly to blood vessels and veins, allowing the passage of nutrients and oxygen, much like a transplanted kidney would.
Silicon membranes keep the kidney cells inside the bioreactor safe from attack by the recipient’s immune cells.
They used a type of kidney cell called a proximal tubule cell, which regulates water, as a test case, tracking the kidney cells and the recipient animals for seven days after transplantation and both did well.
The next step will be month-long trials, first in animals and eventually in humans.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
(Additional reporting provided by Talker News)
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