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Bioartificial Kidney Promising in Early Trials

It mimics human kidney more closely than conventional dialysis

FRIDAY, Feb. 11, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- A number of intensive care units across the United States are taking part in a study to determine if a bioartificial kidney that contains billions of donor kidney cells can help kidney failure patients survive.

Preliminary research on 10 patients at the University of Michigan Medical Center and Cleveland Clinic Foundation found the device to be safe and effective. The current study is examining the effectiveness of the device over 72 hours.

"If you have renal [kidney] failure in the ICU, your mortality is extremely high. Anywhere from 50 to 70 percent of those patients die and over the past 20 years, despite dialysis, that has not changed much," one of the study's principal investigators, Dr. Harold M. Szerlip, a Medical College of Georgia nephrologist who specializes in acute renal failure, said in a prepared statement.

He said he hoped this new renal assist device, developed at the University of Michigan, could help kidney failure patients by mimicking the many important body functions handled by the kidneys.

"Existing forms of dialysis have only replaced the ability of the kidneys to rid the body of waste products and correct abnormalities in blood chemistry; they don't replace kidney function," Szerlip explained.

Those functions include modulating immune response, regulating vitamin D, hormone secretion, stimulating red blood cell production, and helping regulate blood pressure.

The bioartifical kidney utilizes billions of kidney cells that can perform many of these vital functions. The cells are grown into the walls of thousands of hollow fibers that are contained in a cartridge that's similar to those used for traditional dialysis.

More information

The U.S. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse has more about treatments for kidney failure.

SOURCE: Medical College of Georgia, news release, Jan. 31, 2005
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