Scientists successfully implanted a prototype kidney bioreactor containing functional human kidney cells in large animals without significant safety concerns. The device, which is about the size of a deck of cards, did not trigger an immune reaction or cause blood clots, an important milestone on the road to future human trials.

The bioartificial kidney contains functional human cells, giving ESRD patients new hope. (Credit)

The implantable device being developed by The Kidney Project consists of two components: a blood filtration system called the hemofilter, which removes toxins from the blood by passing it through silicon membranes fabricated with precisely shaped nanometer-scale pores; and a bioreactor, which contains cultured human kidney cells intended to perform other kidney functions, such as maintaining adequate fluid volume and blood pressure, adjusting salt levels, and producing essential hormones.

Following promising preclinical studies, The Kidney Project’s hemofiltration system is currently awaiting FDA approval for an initial clinical trial to evaluate its safety.

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