Dialysis patients are forever stuck in weekly, lengthy treatments. They may soon find relief from the grueling process, though. Recent advancements in technology have led to the refinement of an alternative 20 years in the making. Patients no longer have to wait for donor kidneys or fear complications that come with transplants. Instead, an implantable, artificial kidney offers promising results.
Since the early 1970s, the federal government has paid for patients to get dialysis. Development of artificial kidneys stands to break from a status quo set in the last 40 years. With the right financial backing and scientific testing, those patients could receive engineered kidneys. These replacement organs use the same technology that powers the chips in your smartphone. Silicon nanopore filters combine with live cells to imitate the functions of an organic kidney. A body-safe casing houses all these materials. The new kidney then connects to the patient’s circulatory system and bladder.
Researchers point to other benefits of this new treatment. Unlike organ transplants, these replacement kidneys can use the silicon screens to filter out any negative effects from the immune system. Risks of organ rejection decrease when compared to a traditional transplant procedure.
Use of the artificial organ shines a ray of hope on an outdated medical trend that is less effective than other alternatives. Though, the procedure is not quite ready for human trials. Doctors expect to soon move beyond the preclinical testing they have done for the past two years. When they begin trials on humans, they test for blood clotting after the implant procedure. Once proven safe, they carry out follow up studies to make sure the new organ filters human blood correctly. With this timeline in place, doctors hope to finish clinical trials and begin the regulatory process as soon as 2020.
What medical advancements do you think could come next? Do you think there are any implications experts should pay more attention to?