A Medical First
Artificial organs are nothing new in medicine. Artificial hearts, lungs, and even skin are used all the time by surgeons to help those in need. Thanks to the work of Dr.William Fissell it appears artificial kidneys are now on that list. Through the use of nanotechnology he has managed to combine organic material with silicon derived nanoparticles to successfully produce a functioning kidney. The medical breakthrough even tackles the issue of organ rejection by ensuring the artificial kidney is outside the reach of the body’s immune system. The hundreds of thousands of Americans on waiting lists for kidneys will certainly make use of this innovation.
The Nanotech Factor
The magic behind the artificial kidney lies in a microchip. This microchip uses the same silicon nanotechnology used by microelectronics companies for computer hardware, but their purpose is not to perform computations. Instead the chips serve as filters for the kidney arranged in layers. The microchips even serve as a scaffold for the organic kidney cells.
The Inner Workings Of The Artificial Organ
Fissell’s artificial kidney uses fluid dynamics to fully function. The patient’s own blood is passed through the filters in the same way any naturally produced kidney would. Designing the system came natural to biomedical engineer Amanda Buck who can boast of her previous experience with fluid mechanics. She is currently using 3D printing to test new possible models for the artificial kidney.
While the news of this medical breakthrough is certainly amazing in and of itself the artifical kidney has never seen use inside of an actual human. Fissell and his team will need to test this model inside of humans before they can release it into the market. According to Fissell he has a long list of dialysis patients who are waiting for a chance to test out his new creation. They are willing to try this experimental technology not only for themselves but for other patients as well. Testing the artificial kidney in humans will provide the evidence needed to move forward with trials.