Could an Artificial, Wearable Kidney Technology Revolutionize Traditional Dialysis?

Could an Artificial, Wearable Kidney Technology Revolutionize Traditional Dialysis?

Researchers at the Center for Dialysis Innovation are working to change the way kidney disease is managed

Could an Artificial, Wearable Kidney Technology Revolutionize Traditional Dialysis?

On March 15th, Glenda Roberts, Director of External Relations and Patient Engagement at the Center for Dialysis Innovation (“CDI”) and the Kidney Research Institute at the University of Washington spoke on our webinar, Innovations in Kidney Care. Glenda shared CDI’s work developing an artificial, wearable kidney – a potential alternative to traditional dialysis. This article has been adapted from her presentation. Note that the “AKTIV” is still experimental and has not been fully tested or approved.

Introducing the AKTIV

CDI is developing new technologies for a variety of dialysis applications. One of the most promising areas of focus is a wearable dialysis device called the Ambulatory Kidney to Increase Vitality, or “AKTIV”.

CDI developed a breakthrough photo-oxidation technology that eliminates toxins without continuous use of water; this means the device can be untethered from an external water supply and allow patients to be mobile while receiving dialysis treatment.

How Does the AKTIV Wearable Kidney Work?

The AKTIV works by a dialysate regeneration module. The mechanism of regeneration is based on CDI’s proprietary photo-oxidation technology. Spent dialysate flows from the dialyzer to the dialysate regeneration module where urea is decomposed into nitrogen and carbon dioxide by photo-oxidation. Regenerated dialysate is returned to the dialyzer, and this process repeats continuously.

The AKTIV is composed of three modules:

  • The dialysate regeneration module: The dialysate regeneration module removes toxins from the spent dialysate
  • The dialysate management module: The dialysate management module directs the dialysate through the AKTIV and contains the electronics, software, pumps, and sensors required to safely and effectively manage the dialysate and overall device operations. This module also proportions electrolytes into the regenerated dialysate stream returning to the dialyzer.
  • The disposable blood management module: The blood management module is a disposable, replaceable cartridge that integrates the dialyzer, flow channels, sensor interfaces, and bloodlines.

The AKTIV is powered by a rechargeable battery. Setting up the device is radically simplified by the AKTIV’s disposable blood management cartridge and the extended life of the cartridge reduces the amount of monthly disposables.

CDI received feedback from its patient partners that they want an alternative to getting stuck regularly with large bore needles in their fistula or graft. So its researchers are making connecting to and from the AKTIV easy with CDI’s proprietary connection technology designed specifically for wearable dialysis – no repeat needle sticks.

What are the Next Steps for the AKTIV’s Development?

In late 2021, the CDI team was announced as one of six winners of the KidneyX competition, an award given by a public-private partnership between the American Society of Nephrology and the US Department of Health and Human Services. The AKTIV is in the advanced prototype development phase, having demonstrated proof of concept by operating for 24 hours in removing urea and is ready for large animal studies (it hasn’t been tested yet).

CDI’s IP portfolio is being licensed to Kuleana Technology Inc., a newly formed company spun out of the University of Washington that will commercialize CDI technologies and which will work with CDI to continue technology development for future generations of innovative therapies.

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Note: Always seek the advice of your physician or medical team with any questions you may have regarding your specific medical condition. The above information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice from your healthcare provider. This article is not intended as an explicit or implied endorsement of the AKTIV or CDI; CareDx is not affiliated with CDI or the Kidney Research Institute and is not involved in the development of the AKTIV.