Thousands of people with chronic kidney disease now being kept alive by dialysis machines that tie them to a hospital bed for hours will be enormously relieved when a fist-sized artificial kidney hits the market, possibly by the end of the decade.
The device being engineered in the US will go through a series of safety and efficacy trials on hundreds of patients in that country before it is approved by the FDA, University of California San Francisco researcher Dr Shuvo Roy, co-inventor of the device, said at the Tanker annual charity and awards night on Wednesday.
The device that can be implanted in the abdomen and will be powered by the heart is designed to filter the blood and perform other kidney functions, including production of hormones, and help assist in blood pressure control, he told a hall filled with doctors, paramedics and patients. Unlike conventional haemodialysis, which merely filters toxins from the blood, the artificial kidney has a membrane that filters the blood and a bio-reactor comprising living kidney cells that are exposed to the blood during dialysis. “It performs the job of a kidney more holistically than just conventional dialysis,” he said.
The final stage of chronic kidney disease, called end-stage renal disease, is when the kidneys are no longer able to remove enough wastes and excess fluids from the body. At this point, patients are put on dialysis, sometimes up to three times a week, as a bridge to transplant. Increasing incidence of diabetes and hypertension has been pushing up chronic kidney disease among many patients.
At least 2.5 lakh people in India die due to kidney diseases every year. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two most common causes and account for most cases. The cost of treating end-stage kidney disease through dialysis or a kidney transplant is enormous.