Wearable Artificial Kidney (WAK) is a small dialysis machine worn around a patient’s back connected through a tube and cleaning blood on the go. This machine promises to replace the long, static dialysis sessions in the future.
WAK was developed by a team led by Victor Gura at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. The concept for the miniature dialysis machine was introduced in 2009 and it is only now that the machine is ready for the human testing. FDA has approved the clinical trials to be carried out in Seattle, United States, later this year.
The conventional dialysis machine is as large as a filing cabinet or a computer printer in size and weighs about 4.5 kg. It functions to filter out waste products from the patient’s blood after their own kidneys have failed. The patients need to visit dialysis center three times a week and get hook up to a machine for up to four hours. This means that the patients have to sit the entire time drinking a large amount of water and bringing a halt to their daily routine.
WAK is similar in function to the conventional dialysis machine but with the flexibility for the patients to go on about their daily routine. The machine takes advantage of the recent advancement in batteries and materials reducing the size and amount of water needed from 151 L to 0.5 L.
The dialysis machine has already undergone human testing in Italy and UK. The tests at USA will involve up to 16 patients with 10 to be selected for the full trial. The patients will be allowed to move around during the 24 hour tests and blood samples will also be taken. There will be a 28-day follow-up observation period. Successful test results will lead to lighter and more streamlined version of the WAK.
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