KidneyX awards $3 million to innovators redesigning dialysis

KidneyX awards $3 million to innovators redesigning dialysis

HHS and ASN announced six winners of the Redesign Dialysis Phase 2 prize competition.

Each day, 340 Americans begin dialysis treatment for kidney failure, and it’s a disruptive experience. Many patients must visit a facility for several hours, several times each week, where they’re attached to a machine that removes excess waste, salt, and water from the body. The treatment is also expensive: Medicare alone spends more than $35 billion each year to provide care to U.S. patients with kidney failure.

Dialysis technology has not fundamentally changed in more than 60 years, but innovation could dramatically improve quality of life for patients and caregivers. Even seemingly small improvements — at scale — could make a big difference. The nephrology community is eager to see the development of an artificial kidney, and improvements to dialysis help bring bioengineers and medical device inventors one step closer to achieving that goal.

At the KidneyX Summit last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) announced six winners of the $3 million KidneyX: Redesign Dialysis Phase 2 competition. The competition, supported by Luminary Labs, challenged participants to build and test prototype solutions, or components of solutions, that can replicate normal kidney functions or improve dialysis access. Each of the following winners will receive $500,000 in recognition of their transformative work and creativity.


More than half of artery-vein connections necessary for hemodialysis fail after one year, and dialysis patients face the prospect of multiple surgeries and running out of access points as connections fail. VenoStent’s solution uses a “bioresorbable shape memory polymer wrap” as a flexible scaffolding to support the connection between the dialysis graft and the vein.


Unlike hemodialysis, which relies on bulky devices and often requires patients to visit a dialysis center, peritoneal dialysis can be done at home — it’s more convenient, but poses high risk of infection. Relavo’s PeritoneX device reduces that risk by disinfecting connection tubes and eliminating contamination.

Center for Dialysis Innovation

Vascular access for hemodialysis is painful and expensive — and it doesn’t function well. Seattle’s Center for Dialysis Innovation, a collaboration of scientists and physicians at the University of Washington and Northwest Kidney Centers, reimagined vascular access with a “porous synthetic graft intended to make the blood-cleansing process safer and more reliable.”

The Kidney Project

The iHemo Dialysis System offers an alternative to spending 20+ hours each week at a hemodialysis center or taking on the risks of peritoneal dialysis at home. The Kidney Project’s solution is an implantable device that connects to an external recirculation pump, allowing patients to conduct the dialysis process — safely and more frequently — while they are sleeping at home.


Standard vascular access grafts for dialysis often fail due to clotting, vein collapse, or infection. VasoBio identified a molecule and developed a new technology to coat the graft and maintain vein health. This team’s innovation creates a “self-renewable” coating that functions like living tissue.

Nitricap Medical

When other options for vascular access are not available, patients must use catheters to receive hemodialysis; these connections to the heart can cause inflammation and infections. When the Nitricap HD device is added to a catheter, it releases nitric oxide. The gas never enters the body; it disinfects the catheter connection to reduce the risk of infection and prevent blood clots.

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