Team behind artificial kidney prototype bags $500,000 prize

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A research team in the Bay Area was granted half a million dollars in prize money for their invention that can be the hope of kidney dialysis patients to get off the procedure, ABC7 reported.

A kidney transplant is the only real hope for thousands of people battling kidney disease and undergoing dialysis in the U.S.

But an engineering milestone has now provided another option: an implantable artificial kidney.

“We were able to produce a functional prototype. A prototype that was able to produce urine,” UCSF researcher Shuvo Roy, Ph.D., told ACB7.

The media outlet first learned the works of Roy in his lab at UCSF about ten years ago when he was building the artificial kidney’s concept model.

The working prototype at present is similar to the said model. It has two chambers – one copies the dialysis procedure for its membrane filters for cleaning the blood and the other is complete with living cells that do the same work as the kidneys do to the human body.

“Our artificial kidney will allow patients to eat and drink freely. Travel without being tethered to a machine. And have better physiological outcomes because they’re getting continuous treatment,” Roy explains.

The test of the artificial kidney prototype in a live animal model turned out to be a success. The research team said the technology will still undergo some stepping up for it to suit human trials.

The team aims to have the unit at a size that can be inserted into the human body.

Among the challenges facing the projects are funding and improved engineering, Roy said, but he still maintains the belief that the current design is backed in terms of practicability.

“And is still likely to treat patients in this coming decade,” he said.

Meanwhile, the team, along with their partners at Vanderbilt University, have received the $500, 000 prize through the public-private group, Kidney-X.