New portable dialysis machine that provides continuous dialysis is under development

Researchers are developing a Wearable Artificial Kidney for dialysis patients, reports an upcoming paper in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN). "Our vision of a technological breakthrough has materialized in the form of a Wearable Artificial Kidney, which provides continuous dialysis 24 hours a day, seven days a week," comments Victor Gura, MD (David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA).

The device—essentially a miniaturized dialysis machine, worn as a belt—weighs about 10 pounds and is powered by two nine-volt batteries. Because patients don't need to be hooked up to a full-size dialysis machine, they are free to walk, work, or sleep while undergoing continuous, gentle dialysis that more closely approximates normal kidney function.

Such a device could lead to a "paradigm change" in the treatment of dialysis patients. Despite enduring long hours on dialysis every week—with major limitations in activities, diet, and other areas of life—dialysis patients face high rates of hospitalization and death. The U.S. dialysis population currently exceeds 400,000, with costs of over $30 billion per year. "We believe that the Wearable Artificial Kidney will not only reduce the mortality and misery of dialysis patients, but will also result in significant reduction in the cost of providing viable health care," says Gura.

The Wearable Artificial Kidney is successful in preliminary tests, including two studies in dialysis patients. The new study provides important information on the technical details that made these promising results possible.

"However, the long-term effect of this technology on the well-being of dialysis patients must be demonstrated in much-needed clinical trials," adds Gura. "Although successful, this is but one additional step on a long road still ahead of us to bring about a much-needed change in the lives of this population."

Other authors were Alexandra S. Macy, Masoud Beizai, and Carlos Ezon (Xcorporeal, Inc); and Thomas A. Golper, MD (Vanderbilt University Medical Center). Dr. Gura receives a salary from Xcorporeal, Inc.

Additionally, significant contributions to the development of this new device were made by Hans Dietrich Polaschegg, PhD, Andrew Davenport, MD, Claudio Ronco MD, Andre Kaplan, MD, and Eli Friedman, MD.

The study entitled, "Technical Breakthroughs in the Wearable Artificial Kidney (WAK)," will appear online at on August 20, 2009, doi 10.2215/CJN.02790409.

Posted in: Device / Technology News | Medical Research News

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    When I first read about the portable dialysis machine I felt the same sensation when I first read the landing on the moon : Unbelievable but true. Yet no further details were given about the beginning of using this magic machine, its cost etc. I would be very grateful to get some more information. I started dialysis four years ago and in spite of known limitations this device may help thousands of patients to re-start a normal life. My e-mail is : [email protected]  Please respond.

  2. Judy Kelly Judy Kelly United States says:

    We are so close to 2012, I can smell it. I can feel the success of a wearable artificial kidney.  I haven't seen any updates sine this one and wonder how close the project is to completion.  Have there been successful clinical trials?

    I have had two transplants (one lasted 32 wonderful years).  The second, from my younger sister lasted only 3.

    I was dialyzed on the "Kiil" for three years in the mid 60's and had my cadavaric transplant in 1969.  I have been back on facility dialysis for over 7 years. I hate it and want freedom and to live more normally again.

    Because of dialysis, I have developed Periferal Neuropathy
    and have been told that only dialysis 24/7 can help me. I am no longer a transplant candidate.

    When can I expect the wearable kidney to be a reality...hopefully before I die on dialysis. I'm strong, I'm willing and I'm ("patiently") waiting.

    If you are unable to answer my questions, will you please pass them on to the person who can?

    Judy Kelly

    • Steve Belk Steve Belk United Kingdom says:

      hi judy i have had renal failure since 1994 and on dialysis for a good few years. my wife then donated one of her kidney to me can't thank her enough. but after 2 weeks it failed the surgeon missed an artery so it was back on dialysis untill i was called in to be told there was a kidney if i wanted it you can guess what the answer was. alls been well untill the last few months when it was only working at 16% still not on dialysis yet but not far off thats why i am interested in a artifcial one, it's been talked about for years but things seem to be looking upat last. vi would gladly be a guinea pig for them good look steve belk x

  3. Anirban Anirban India says:

    My father [64 yrs] is suffering from kidney failure since 2010. He is continuing dialysis from that time. We are looking for some new developments for a long time. After reading this article I am wondering when this  portable dialysis machine will be discovered. Please inform me about the latest updates on this machine.

  4. Jo-Ann Cross Jo-Ann Cross United States says:

    My husband would love to be in one of your studies, of the portable dialysis machine, please tell us were we can sign up, are there any studies coming up? If so please contact us at [email protected] many manyh thanks

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