Researchers demonstrated a prototype bioartificial kidney that can be implanted and works well without needing drugs.
The University of California San Francisco’s (UCSF) Kidney Project successfully demonstrated its prototype bioartificial kidney that replicates all the human kidney functions. The bioartificial kidney can now be implanted into a patient and it processes without requiring any immune-suppressing medications or blood thinners. In the past few years, the team was successful in testing the bioartificial kidney’s two main parts, the hemofilter and the bioreactor in separate experiments. The bioartificial kidney will replicate the high standard of the kidney transplant, and it will give relief to patients from the need of immune-suppressants.
The kidney is responsible for many vital functions in the body, most importantly filtering toxins and waste material form blood. It regulates bodily fluids, blood pressure, and electrolytes concentrations. Imitating these vital functions is a complex and challenging process. When these organs start to deteriorate, patients opt for dialysis, however, the process of dialysis is lengthy and not so much relaxing. There is another long-lasting solution to dialysis, a kidney transplant. A transplant may give back the high quality of life but it needs immune-suppressing medications that come with dangerous side effects. The bioartifcial kidney developed by the team of scientists at UCSF is made of two key parts, the hemofilter and the bioreactor. The hemofilter removes toxins and waste products from the blood and the bioreactor consisting renal tubule cells, regulates electrolyte balance, water volume and carries out other metabolic functions.
Moreover, the silicon semiconductor membranes in the hemofilter defends these cells from receiver’s immune system attack. Hence, no requirement of immune-suppressants after the implant. After successfully demonstrating the capability of the bioatificial kidney, the team is now focusing on improving the product in a way for it to be used in more thorough preclinical trials, and eventually, clinical trials.