Artificial Kidney Prototype To Be Implantable
An artificial kidney prototype has been developed at the University of California San Francisco; the intent is to use a combination of tissue engineering and MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) technology to create a device that could actually be implanted within the body.
(Artificial kidney diagram)
The device, which would include thousands of microscopic filters as well as a bioreactor to mimic the metabolic and water-balancing roles of a real kidney, is being developed in a collaborative effort by engineers, biologists and physicians nationwide, led by Shuvo Roy in the UCSF Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences.
The treatment has been proven to work for the sickest patients using a room-sized external model developed by a team member in Michigan. Roy's goal is to apply silicon fabrication technology, along with specially engineered compartments for live kidney cells, to shrink that large-scale technology into a device the size of a coffee cup. The device would then be implanted in the body without the need for immune suppressant medications, allowing the patient to live a more normal life...
The team has established the feasibility of an implantable model in animal models and plans to be ready for clinical trials in five to seven years...
The two-stage system uses a hemofilter to remove toxins from the blood, while applying recent advances in tissue engineering to grow renal tubule cells to provide other biological functions of a healthy kidney. The process relies on the body's blood pressure to perform filtration without needing pumps or an electrical power supply.
Philip K. Dick made use of the idea of wholly mechanical artificial organs in his 1964 novel Cantata 140:
George Walt's corporate existence proved the workability of wholly mechanical organs...
"...if they keep after me, or if they won't make a deal regarding artif-org construction - then it'll be necessary to do something.
(Read more about Philip K. Dick's artif-orgs)
In his 1969 masterpiece Ubik, Dick removed the dash and called them artiforgs.
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