Research on nanofilter technology was presented at ASN Kidney Week 2015 as part of the development of a surgically implantable, artificial kidney.

The Kidney Project is a multi-institutional collaboration that has prototyped and begun testing key components of the coffee-cup-sized device, which mimics functions of the human kidney. The research recently received a new $6 million grant through the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering’s Quantum Program.

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Abstracts presented at ASN included data showing the benefits of a biomimetic membrane over a conventional polymer dialyzer (abstract FR-PO373), the use computational fluid dynamics simulations to predict potentially thrombogenic zones (abstract FR-PO366), the successful use of silicon nanopore membranes designed for hemofiltration (abstract FR-PO365), and the relevant implications of a slippery liquid infused porous surface as an anti-fouling coating agent.

“We aim to conduct clinical trials on an implantable, engineered organ in this decade, and we are coordinating our efforts with both the NIH and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,” said Shuvo Roy, PhD, a UCSF bioengineer who led the research together with Vanderbilt University nephrologist William Fissell, MD.

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Fissell, associate professor in the Department of Medicine at Vanderbilt and medical director for The Kidney Project, said the project’s goal is to create a permanent solution to the scarcity problem in organ transplantation. “We are increasing the options for people with chronic kidney disease who would otherwise be forced onto dialysis,” Fissell said.

The artificial kidney being developed by Roy and Fissell is designed to be connected internally to the patient’s blood supply and bladder and implanted near the patient’s own kidneys, which are not removed. Along with Roy at UCSF and Fissell at Vanderbilt, a national team of scientists and engineers at universities and small businesses are working toward making the implantable artificial kidney available to patients.

In September the project was designated for inclusion in the FDA’s new Expedited Access Pathway program to speed development, evaluation, and review of medical devices that meet major unmet needs in fighting life-threatening or irreversibly debilitating diseases.