$100 Dialysis is my vision. University of California San Francisco researchers are doing some exciting research that may well be a step on the way. They are developing an implantable artificial kidney . They have a facebook page http://www.facebook.com/ArtificialKidney for those wishing to follow progress. $13M is needed to bring it clinical trials – I think they should try Kickstarter. With 400,000 on dialysis in the US alone there will be plenty of contributors (If you are feeling generous now you can contribute by going to their website). Alternatively, $13M is a drop in the bucket of the $29Bn that Medicaid (6% of its budget)* spends on dialysis every year!
A few interesting facts about UCSF’s artificial kidney:
- No pumps and no power supply. It relies on the body’s blood pressure to perform filtration.
- The key to cleaning the blood is a good filter – they have developed nano technology to produce a silicon based filter with pores small enough and a structure that does not induce blood clotting. See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2607036/
- Beyond simply filtering the nasties, the kidney’s role is to regulate salt and water reabsorption and blood pressure. This is being achieved by using bioengineered grown tissue – that is real cells from inside the kidney. They call this the bioreactor.
- They are currently in the “pre-clinical” stage where they are miniaturising the machine and preparing it for implantation into humans.
* If you want to know why this is so high and the practices in the US then see http://www.propublica.org/series/dialysis. You may be shocked (a must read for every for anyone in the US making choices about dialysis).