Wearable artificial kidney

Renal diseases may develop to end-stage renal disease, when the renal function is not sufficient anymore for a proper physiology. When no transplant kidney is available, patients with end-stage renal diseases go into dialysis, which is a renal replacement therapy that highly impacts the quality of life in a negative manner. Approaches to develop a portable, miniaturized dialysis device, could lead to a wearable artificial kidney (WAK) that could be operated constantly. However, to reach this goal, several requirements with respect to the sorbents, water handling and filtration membranes has to be met. Currently, research is focused on improving biomaterials as building blocks of an wearable artificial kidney. This research is focused on reconstituting the carbohydrate layers normally existing in the capillary filter, on sophisticated filtration membranes that contain sorbents in addition (mixed matrix membranes). Parameters that are addressed are biocompatibility and fouling of the filter. At the long term the ultimate goal is to develop an artificial capillary filter ex vivo consisting of the glomerular cell types constituting the capillary filter, i.e. podocytes and glomerular endothelium. Also at the long term, it is a challenge how to direct stem cells to repair a damaged capillary filter in vivo.

Within RRM, research focuses on i) improvement of biomaterials to develop a miniaturized wearable kidney device as replacement for current dialysis treatment, ii) development of an artificial capillary filter ex vivo, existing of podocytes and glomerular endothelium, and iii) directing stem cells to repair a damaged capillary in vivo.

Dr. Johan van der Vlag, Department of Experimental Nephrology