Dialysis discovery

US researchers have developed a wearable artificial kidney that avoids many of the problems patients usually suffer with traditional dialysis.

The automated, wearable artificial kidney (AWAK) was developed by two researchers from UCLA and the Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. The peritoneal-based artificial kidney is ‘bloodless’ and reduces or even eliminates protein loss and other dialysis-related problems.

The developers have signed an exclusive licensing agreement with the Singapore-based company AWAK Technologies to develop a commercial wearable kidney. It is based on a design by Prof Martin Roberts and David Lee, both based at the David Geffen School of Medicine and consultants at the VA Healthcare System.

With traditional haemodialysis, patients are hooked up to a machine for four hours, three times a week. Their blood is filtered through the machine to remove toxins and is then pumped back into the body.

The AWAK would function continuously, as natural kidneys do, eliminating patient ‘shocks’, and because it does not involve blood circulation outside the body, it is ‘bloodless’.

It also regenerates and reuses fluid and protein components in the spent dialysate fluid, making it waterless and minimising or eliminating protein loss.