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Scientists have developed a new urea sorbent that could accelerate progress toward the development of a lightweight, wearable artificial kidney with the potential to make dialysis more convenient, comfortable and effective.

Urea sorbent could accelerate development of a wearable artificial kidney, replacing dialysis. (Credit: ElRoi/Shutterstock.com)

The researchers turned to an emerging nanomaterial called MXene, two-dimensional nano-sheets of metal carbides. Instead of breaking down urea, MXene can capture the compound by sandwiching urea molecules between its nanometer-thin layers. At room temperature, the material could capture 94 percent 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. The researchers conclude that the material could help turn the concept of a comfortably wearable artificial kidney into a reality.

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