Reasearchers working on dyalisis machine small enough to hold in your hand

Dec 28, 2012

Imagine a dialysis machine small enough that a patient could wear it. A super-thin filtering material may allow researchers at the University of Rochester to revolutionize dialysis for patients with kidney disease.

Jim McGrath, an associate professor of engineering at the University of Rochester, says the thinner the membrane that blood passes through, the more efficient its filtering capacity.

Currently, people suffering from chronic kidney disease have to spend hours hooked up to a large dialysis machine in a hospital to have toxins and waste products removed from their blood.

McGrath says the material they're working with filters blood more efficiently, and could end up in a much smaller device that could fit on an arm band.

"We can basically replace the experience of going to a dialysis center three times a week with nightly dialysis at home with a device that's about the size of a cell phone and achieve the same sort of clearance level. This is actually like a clinic on a chip," he said.

McGrath says they will be ready to do animal tests of the model as early as mid-2013, and they think eventually they can make the system affordable enough to be available to many patients.