Researchers have developed a human nephron filter (HNF) that would eventually make possible a continuously functioning, wearable or implantable artificial kidney.
This study is published in the latest issue of Hemodialysis International.
The HNF is the first application in developing a renal replacement therapy (RRT) to potentially eliminate the need for dialysis or kidney transplantation in end-stage renal disease patients. The HNF utilizes a unique membrane system created through applied nanotechnology. In the ideal RRT device, this technology would be used to mimic the function of natural kidneys, continuously operating, and based on individual patient needs.
No dialysis solution would be used in the device. Operating 12 hours a day, seven days a week, the filtration rate of the HNF is double that of conventional hemodialysis administered three times a week.
“The HNF system, by eliminating dialysate and utilizing a novel membrane system, represents a breakthrough in renal replacement therapy based on the functioning of native kidneys,” say researchers. “The enhanced solute removal and wearable design should substantially improve patient outcomes and quality of life.”
According to the study, nearly 900,000 patients worldwide suffer from end-stage renal disease and require treatment through dialysis or transplantation. Animal studies using this technology are scheduled to begin in the next 1-2 years with clinical trials to follow subsequently.