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The kidney may be one of the most underestimated organs: it’s incredibly complex, and responsible for five to seven key functions in the body. In addition to producing urine and removing toxins from the blood, it regulates blood pressure, produces hormones, protects the body’s immune system, and controls blood pH levels. When kidneys fail, all of these functions are lost.

Press play to discover:

  • How an organoid differs from a bioartificial organ like the kidney being developed as part of The Kidney Project
  • In what ways the approach taken by The Kidney Project fundamentally differs from other approaches to the treatment of kidney failure
  • What’s needed in order to get this artificial kidney in clinical trials, and when it might be available to patients

Shuvo Roy is a professor of bioengineering at UCSF whose work is centered around the development of a surgically implantable bioartificial kidney capable of providing constant treatment to patients who are currently on dialysis, and eventually performing all of the functions of a natural kidney. Roy’s work is part of The Kidney Project, which is a national effort to improve the lives of those with kidney failure.

While dialysis can act as a proxy for the kidney in filtering the blood, it does not provide the other functions nearly as well as a natural kidney. To date, no one has been able to replicate a human kidney capable of performing all of the functions of a natural kidney, but that’s the goal of Roy’s work.

First, the artificial kidney will combine a mechanical filter made from silicon wafers, and cadaver kidney cells to provide mechanical filtration, produce important hormones, and perform other key functions of the proximal tubule, such as salt and water reabsorption. This will liberate people from the necessity of going to a dialysis center multiple times a week, allow them to eat and drink freely, and enhance the overall quality of their lives. As the device enters the clinical realm, the technology will be further refined to eventually capture all of the functions of a natural kidney.

Roy dives into the details of all this and more, including the specific benefits of artificial organs, microfabrication technology and applications, and the manufacturing and engineering processes of medical devices like the artificial kidney.

Learn more at https://pharm.ucsf.edu/kidney.

Available on Apple Podcasts: apple.co/2Os0myK

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