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#15 - 3D Printing in Surgery

An Artificial Kidney Made of Nanofilters to Avoid Dialysis


An example of the microchip filter being used (Courtesy of Vanderbilt University).

Scientists at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee are creating a device that could change the life of dialysis patients who must spend a lot of time undergoing treatment. They are building an implantable artificial kidney with microchip filters and living kidney cells that will be powered by a patient’s own heart.

The device will be able to “mimic a kidney to remove enough waste products, salt and water to keep a patient off dialysis,” stated lead researcher Dr. William H. Fissell on the University website.

The key to this device is a series of microchips, which make ideal filters. They also represent the scaffold in which living kidney cells will rest. These cells will grow on and around the microchip filters in order to mimic the natural actions of the kidney. The device will operate naturally with a patient’s blood flow. The final version is expected to be about the size of a human kidney, small enough to be implantable.


About the Author

Celia Sampol has been a journalist for more than 15 years. She worked in Brussels and Washington for national medias (Agence France Presse, Liberation, Europolitics). She's the editor-in-chief of MedicalExpo e-magazine.

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