Two researchers from UCLA and the Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System have developed a design for an automated, wearable artificial kidney, or AWAK, that avoids the complications patients often suffer with traditional dialysis.
The design for the peritoneal-based artificial kidney - which is "bloodless" and reduces or even eliminates protein loss and other dialysis-related problems - is summarized in an article published in the current issue of the journal Clinical and Experimental Nephrology.
UCLA-VA has also signed an exclusive licensing agreement with the Singapore-based company AWAK Technologies Pte. Ltd. to develop a commercial wearable kidney based on the design by Martin Roberts, an assistant professor of clinical medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a dialysis consultant with the VA Healthcare System, and David B.N. Lee, a professor of medicine at the Geffen School and a consultant nephrologist at the VA.
Around 1980, an artificial kidney machine was built that incorporated many of the principles on which the new technology relies, according to Roberts. But that machine, while portable, was not wearable. The new technology would allow patients to go about their regular business while undergoing dialysis.
"What's really new about it is the patient's freedom," Roberts said. "To me, as the inventor, the most important thing for the patients is their freedom. The next important thing is that because it's working all the time instead of intermittently, you can do a much better job of treating the patient. So we expect the patient to feel better and live longer."