Patients currently undergoing kidney dialysis while waiting for transplants have recently received some hopeful news. The Kidney Project, being headed by researchers at the University of California in San Francisco aims to perfect a bio-artificial kidney to save the lives of those suffering with end stage renal disease (ESRD).
Currently the only way to prolong the life of someone with ESRD is through dialysis which is not always accessible, in addition to being very expensive. While kidney transplantation is currently the best treatment doctors have for renal failure, there is a shortage of donor kidneys worldwide and without treatment ERSD is fatal.
Once surgically implanted, the free-standing kidney (which is about the size of a coffee cup), is able to complete the same biological functions as a regular kidney such as filtration of toxins. The procedure to insert the implant into the body is similar to that of a kidney transplant. With current estimations the cost will also be similar. The devices are expected to be permanent and should any issues arise with the artificial kidney, they are expected to be resolved with minimally invasive surgery. In the USA, clinical trials started earlier this year and researchers are expecting the first bio-artificial kidneys to be available to the public in 2020 depending on the availability of funding.The National Institute of Health (NIH) has given a 6-million-dollar funding grant in 2015. Various US federal agencies including the NIH, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Department of Defence (DOD) have also given almost 7 million worth of funding.
The Kidney Project still needs another 3 million dollars to complete the clinical trials and give hope to the estimated two million patients in the world affected with end stage renal disease.
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Source: The Kidney Project / University of California