A national research venture is underway that could bring to fruition an artificial kidney in order to treat End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).

Directed by the University of California San Francisco’s Shuvo Roy, Ph.D., “The Kidney Project” is working to create a surgically implanted, free-standing bioartificial device that could promise ESRD patients more than just renal dialysis treatment—instead, offering a longer-term option that would temporarily stand in for transplant patients with limited donor options.

Working with Vanderbilt University nephrologist William Fissell, MD, Dr. Roy has begun the testing process of the drinking mug-sized device that functions like an actual human kidney. It uses a silicon nanofilter to filter blood, and this component functions based on blood pressure, so it has no need for electrical power or a pump.

Furthermore, the device is intended for internal implant near a patient’s true kidneys, which remain in place. There is to be no need for immunosuppressant drugs.

University of California San Francisco reports that the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB has granted The Kidney Project $6 million, under the NIBIB Quantum Program. Additionally, Dr. Roy has announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recently selected the project for inclusion in the new Expedited Access Pathway program, which exists to help speed the development of devices that could help fight debilitating diseases.

Photos via MilitaryHealth / Flickr Creative Commons