UCSF Develops Revolutionary Artificial Kidney Bioreactor


Sep 4, 2023

UCSF Develops Revolutionary Artificial Kidney Bioreactor

UCSF's Breakthrough in Artificial Kidneys Could Eliminate the Need for Dialysis

Kidney failure has long been a critical health issue affecting millions of people worldwide. For years, dialysis and kidney transplants have been the primary treatments, but they come with their own set of challenges, including the need for immunosuppressant drugs post-transplant and the limitations of dialysis. However, a groundbreaking development is on the horizon that promises to revolutionize how we approach kidney failure treatments. Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco, are developing an artificial kidney, housed in a bioreactor, that could potentially make dialysis a thing of the past.

A New Approach to Kidney Treatment

The research team has created a bioreactor—an implantable device containing kidney cells—that can mimic essential functions of the kidney when implanted into the body. This device aims to serve as a better alternative to dialysis, which although life-saving, is not as effective as a functioning kidney. The bioreactor is designed to work quietly in the background, much like a pacemaker, without triggering the recipient's immune system.

The Science Behind the Bioreactor

The bioreactor connects directly to the blood vessels and veins, allowing for the efficient passage of nutrients and oxygen, similar to a natural, transplanted kidney. Additionally, silicon membranes inside the bioreactor keep the kidney cells safe from attacks by the recipient's immune system, thereby eliminating the need for immunosuppressant drugs that are generally required after a kidney transplant.

Animal Trials and Promising Results

In a remarkable feat, the team successfully tested the bioreactor inside the body of a pig. The device not only survived but also effectively mimicked several key functions of a kidney. These results have been published in Nature Communications and form an important milestone for The Kidney Project, spearheaded by technical director Shuvo Roy and medical director William H. Fissell.

What's Next?

The journey is far from over. The next step involves conducting month-long trials, initially in animals and eventually in humans. These trials are mandated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But with the preliminary success in pig models and the assurance that immunosuppressant drugs will not be required, the future looks promising.

The Bigger Picture

The development of a functional bioreactor is a monumental step forward in the treatment of kidney failure. If successful, this technology could free millions of people from the constraints of dialysis and the complications associated with kidney transplants, leading us closer to a future where kidney failure could be treated more effectively and less invasively.

In summary, the work being done at the University of California, San Francisco, has the potential to revolutionize kidney failure treatment, giving hope to millions of patients and their families. Keep an eye on The Kidney Project as they continue to push the boundaries of what's possible in medical science.

Related Articles

What Do Your Kidney Do?

Signs that You Have Chronic Kidney Disease

What Causes Chronic Kidney Disease?

Treatment Options for Chronic Kidney Disease


Artificial kidneys may abolish dialysis

Feasibility of an implantable bioreactor for renal cell therapy using silicon nanopore membranes

About the Author

Rich Foreman brings over 30 years of technology leadership to his role of CEO and Co-Founder of KidneySoft.  As founding CTO, Rich led the team that developed the CordicoShield / CordicoFire Wellness App. Cordico was honored with the Sacramento Innovation Award in 2021. After achieving a 7 digit ARR, Cordico was acquired by Lexipol in 2020. Rich has a BS in Industrial Engineering from the University of Washington, an MPA from Troy State University and was an officer in the U.S. Navy. Rich co-authored his book, "Tap into the Mobile Economy." Rich's blog was listed in Top 20 Marketing Mobile Blogs of 2014. He has been featured on KCRA3, NEWS10, 1170 Tech AM PowerDrive, Business Radio Money 105.5, SiliconIndia, the Sacramento Business Journal, and the Sacramento Bee. Rich is also the Founding Director of the Sacramento Chapter of Startup Grind and served a term as Utility Commissioner for the City of Folsom. Rich is a regular contributor to TechWire.net and StartupSac. Rich was the Co-founder of Apptology which was named Small Business of the Year in 2014 by the Sacramento Asian Pacific Chamber. He was also the Founding Chief Technology Officer at Cordico. Cordico was acquired by Lexipol in 2020.  Rich also served 4 years as a Naval Officer in the Civil Engineer Corps.

Patient Education Disclaimer

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not replace the advice or counsel of a doctor or health care professional. KidneyLuv makes every effort to provide information that is accurate and timely, but makes no guarantee in this regard. You should consult with, and rely only on the advice of, your physician or health care professional.

KidneyLuv Logo