William Fissell, MD, nephrologist and associate professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University, is working on a device that could rescue kidney failure patients from the burden of recurring dialysis treatments. The implantable artificial kidney is composed of plastic conduits and silicon nanotechnology microchips (similar to those used in most of our modern computing devices). These microchips are embedded with living kidney cells and microscopic pores that act as the filtration systems.
Dr. Fissell’s research team still has some obstacles to hurdle before this device can be ready for human trials. They need to fit all of the components into a package smaller than a soda can, while also making sure they can properly route a patient’s blood through the filtration chips. Vanderbilt biomedical engineer Amanda Buck has been tapped to handle the fluid dynamics issues, using 3D printers to rapidly prototype new versions of the routing tubes.