Scientists Develop Small Artificial Kidneys for Dialysis Patients

Scientists Develop Small Artificial Kidneys for Dialysis Patients

Tuesday, 23 October, 2018 - 07:45
Nurse prepares a dialysis machine for a diabetes patient at Nicolae Paulescu National Institute for Diabetes, Nutrition and Metabolic Diseases in Bucharest | Reuters
London- Asharq Al-Awsat
Scientists from the American Chemical Society have reached a new technique that may open new prospects towards an artificial kidney that could be worn all the time.

One obstacle, though, is urea, which must be removed to maintain the body's nitrogen balance. The discovery comes while there just aren't enough kidney transplants available for the millions of people with renal failure, along with many difficulties accompanying dialysis that typically requires three visits every week.

Scientists are eager to develop an artificial kidney that could be worn all the time, making dialysis easier and more efficient. Patients' struggle is not the only downside of dialysis, but health outcomes with the treatment are poor. The problem is that kidneys filter blood around the clock; dialysis just can't do as good of a job when performed for only a few times each week, the German News Agency reported.

Currently, dialysis deals with urea using an enzyme that breaks the molecule down into ammonia and carbon dioxide, but the amount of material required to perform this reaction is too big and heavy to be comfortably worn on the body.

The researchers from the American Chemical Society turned to an emerging nanomaterial called MXene, two-dimensional nanosheets of metal carbides.

MXene can capture the compound by sandwiching urea molecules between its nanometer-thin layers. At room temperature, the material could capture 94% of urea from the discarded materials from dialysis machines.

When tested at body temperature (98.6 F), the material could hold onto even more urea. Furthermore, MXene did not kill cells, suggesting that it could be safely used in people. According to the Science Daily website, the researchers conclude that the material could help turn the concept of a comfortably wearable artificial kidney into a reality.

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