6 innovators advancing artificial organs

6 innovators advancing artificial organs

KidneyX announced Phase 1 winners in the Artificial Kidney Prize.

Patients with kidney diseases today face a horrific reality: Within three years of going on dialysis, 40% of them will die. Treatment methods for kidney diseases have not changed significantly in more than 60 years. But through the KidneyX public-private partnership, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) are transforming treatment for the more than 850 million people worldwide — including 37 million Americans — living with kidney diseases.

To address the urgent need for improved outcomes, KidneyX used open innovation to go beyond the traditional grantee structure, drawing greater participation and capital from around the world. Last fall, KidneyX launched the Artificial Kidney Prize, a competition to accelerate the development of artificial kidneys toward human clinical trials. Phase 1, designed and produced by Luminary Labs, asked innovators to submit solutions that enable and advance the functionality, effectiveness, and/or reliability of artificial kidneys.

The international response from experts across scientific fields proved that radically transforming kidney care is not a dream for the future — it’s possible now. Phase 1 submissions proposed projects that miniaturize and optimize technologies for toxin removal and volume control, new approaches to move xenotransplantation closer to human trials, and cellular engineering platforms that more closely replicate human kidney function.

HHS and ASN have announced six Phase 1 winners, who each received $650,000:

  • David Cooper, University of Alabama. Genetically engineered pig kidneys that will reduce rejection possibility while providing more viable donor kidneys.
  • imec USA Nanoelectronics Design Center. Miniature, wireless toxin-removal system for implantable, wearable, portable, or bedside artificial kidneys.
  • Makana Therapeutics. Genetically engineered pig kidneys that will increase the supply of transplantable organs by eliminating the antibody barrier to xenotransplantation.
  • University of California San Francisco. Implantable bioartificial kidney that allows for continuous blood processing and direction of waste to the bladder while providing freedom of movement.
  • University of Washington Center for Dialysis Innovation. Wearable continuous-hemodialysis device that allows for greater freedom of movement.
  • US Kidney Research Corporation. Wearable artificial kidney that does not need water to conduct filtration, drastically reducing the weight of the device.

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