It is of utmost importance to take proper care of the kidneys, as they act as powerful chemical factories in our body.
These organs perform vital roles, including regulating and filtering minerals from the blood, maintaining overall fluid balance, filtering waste materials, and producing hormones needed for the production of red blood cells, a stable blood pressure, and bone health.
If they fail, they cannot filter waste products from the blood, so they, in turn, start accumulating in the blood, leading to a chemical imbalance in the body.
A transplant is the only option in the case of end-stage kidney failure.
The list of people waiting for a kidney transplant in the United States has more than 100 thousand people, and the average wait-time for a kidney is between three and five years.
While waiting for a new organ, patients are put on dialysis, which can perform some of the actions of a healthy kidney. Yet, when a person is unable to receive a kidney donation, they have to be on dialysis for the rest of your life, with an average life expectancy of five to ten years.
Every day, thirteen people die while waiting for a kidney transplant.
As a result of this, scientists are working hard to find a solution to this problem, and The Kidney Project might solve the issue with this organ shortage.
The project has been launched by William Fissel from Vanderbilt University and Shuvo Roy from the University of California, San Francisco.
They have created an artificial kidney that consists of two components: a blood filtration system called the hemofilter, and a bioreactor, which contains cultured human kidney cells intended to perform other kidney functions.
It uses living kidney cells along with 15 specialized microchips controlled by the heart to act as filters and perform the actions of a healthy kidney.
They hold living renal (kidney) cells that will eventually grow around the chip and imitate a real kidney.
“The implantable bioartificial kidney is an alternative to dialysis and other externally wearable devices that would tether patients or limit their mobility.
A live kidney transplant from a matching donor is still considered one of the best treatment options for ESRD, but unfortunately, there is a shortage of organ donors that prevents transplants from being available to the vast majority of ESRD patients. Unlike transplants, our device will not require that patients be on immunosuppressive drugs to prevent rejection.”
The artificial kidney is inserted into the body with a common surgery, and it can reliably distinguish between waste chemicals and needed nutrients.
It is believed to work better than dialysis and is seen as a more permanent, and more effective solution than dialysis and a real kidney transplant.
Roy added that the long-term challenges of their innovation “center around keeping the device operating trouble-free after implantation beyond a few months.”
Apart from $6 million in government grants, the project has also received substantial donations from individuals. Roy added:
“Their support is a testament to the acute need for a revolution in ESRD treatment, and the donations we have received are invaluable in allowing our research to progress.”
Yet, we are left to hope that it will eventually target three major issues at the same time, the organ shortage crisis, the need for dialysis, and national health care expenses.