Backpack-sized artificial kidney for dialysis among winners of KidneyX competition
A team from the University of Washington Center for Dialysis Innovation was awarded $650,000 by KidneyX after becoming one of six groups to win the ongoing Artificial Kidney Prize competition.
The award for the artificial kidney system, known as AKTIV (Ambulatory Kidney to Increase Vitality), was accepted by the co-director for the Center for Dialysis Innovation (CDI) at the virtual KidneyX Summit.
“This is our third win with KidneyX and the first iteration of the artificial-kidney prize,” Jonathan Himmelfarb, MD, who also serves as professor of nephrology at the UW School of Medicine, said in a press release. “There will be another phase of competition next year whose goal is an integrated system that works. Ultimately, the idea is that one or more competitors will get novel systems commercialized and we’ll get these to patients to change their lives.”
According to the release, artificial kidney protype from the group at the University of Washington (UW) is intended to grant patients more flexibility in their lives by freeing them from in-center hemodialysis treatments. The device was modeled on the downsizing of left ventricular assist devices which, according to the release, were once console-sized; now, “an implantable artificial heart is powered by a backpack-size pump and battery that users can take on a hike,” according to the release.
Buddy Ratner, CDI co-director and UW professor of chemical engineering and bioengineering, commented on the miniaturization of the traditional dialysis machine into this artificial kidney prototype and the similarities to the transformation of the artificial heart.
“That downsizing is analogous to our portable kidney machine,” he said. “The upside is that a patient with a wearable artificial kidney will get continuous dialysis, which we think will have great health benefits because it more closely emulates the natural organs’ filtering function.”
Himmelfarb elaborated on the technology, noting that AKTIV will allow for wearability and portability while eliminating urea and other toxins from the dialysate.
“Instead of having hundreds of liters of dialysate go down the drain, we have created a closed-loop system of a liter of dialysate that continuously recirculates while uremic toxins are removed and transformed into nitrogen and carbon dioxide – two colorless, odorless gases in the atmosphere,” he said, adding that his team hopes to have a device ready for clinical trials in 2 years.
In addition to the monetary prize awarded by KidneyX, CDI-partner Northwest Kidney Centers is providing $15 million in funding for novel approaches to dialysis, according to the release.
“This CDI’s artificial kidney prototype is an important step in advancing a truly innovative patient-centered approach to dialysis treatment,” Rebecca Fox, CEO of Northwest Kidney Centers, said in the release. “We are proud to support the efforts of this amazing team.”
A full list of winning teams, along with short descriptions of the submitted technologies, can be found here.