Scientists develop bioartificial kidney for patients with renal failure

November 11, 2004

University of Michigan scientists have developed a bioartificial kidney that appears to improve kidney function in people with acute renal failure.

University of Michigan scientists have developed a bioartificial kidney that appears to improve kidney function in people with acute renal failure.

In a phase I/II study designed to determine the safety of the device on humans, the researchers enrolled 10 patients with acute renal failure and multiple other illnesses. The patients had an 86% likelihood of dying at the hospital.

The bioartificial kidney includes a cartridge that filters the blood as in traditional kidney dialysis. The cartridge is connected to a renal tubule assist device, which is made of hollow fibers lined with renal proximal tubule cells. These cells reclaim vital electrolytes, salt, glucose, and water, and control production of cytokines.

Each patient received up to 24 hours of treatment with the renal tubule assist device. Researchers found that six of the 10 patients survived more than 30 days after treatment with the bioartificial kidney.

"These results showed this type of human adult progenitor/stem cell is well-tolerated by patients with acute renal failure, and resulted in some improvement of the patients' clinical conditions," said lead author H. David Humes, MD, of the University of Michigan Medical School. "It's a small study, but it was compelling enough for us and the FDA to go forward with a full phase II study."

Dr. Humes hopes to build a fully implantable device to fully replace organ function if this current product is effective.

The study appears in the October issue of Kidney International (2004; 66:1578-88).