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Vanderbilt University researchers have created an implantable artificial kidney that is powered by a patient's own heart. The bio-hybrid device uses living kidney cells and microchip filters to keep a patient off dialysis and remove waste products, salt, and water.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center nephrologist and Associate Professor of Medicine Dr. William H. Fissell IV wants to make the technology small enough, roughly the size of a soda can, to be implanted inside a patient's body.

Fissell and his team are designing each pore in the microchip filter. Each device will hold roughly fifteen microchips layered on top of each other. In addition to filtering, the microchips provide a scaffold in which living kidneys will rest.

For the cells to mimic the natural actions of the kidney, the researchers grew live kidney cells on and around the microchip filters.

Fissell says he has a long list of dialysis patients eager to join a future human trial. Pilot studies of the silicon filters could start in patients by the end of 2017.

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