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Scientific leap could save kidney sufferers.

SCIENTISTS believe they have taken a significant step towards developing a bionic kidney that could be placed in the bodies of patients needing transplants.

Top researchers and engineers in the field of science have tested a "living membrane" made with human cells that would be at the heart of a functional artificial kidney implant.

It is hoped the breakthrough could save millions of lives.

Creating a semi-permeable surface that can selectively filter out waste molecules in the same way as a real kidney has been a major challenge.

The team used cultured cells from the human kidney filtration system which were attached to the surfaces of artificial hollow structures.

Tests showed that the cell layer functioned as a living membrane.

Scientists hope such devices will one day replace kidney transplants and bulky dialysis machines that filter the blood of patients with kidney failure.

Dialysis, which usually involves regular trips to hospital, is often carried out before a transplant.

In 2012 more than 27,000 people in the UK were undergoing dialysis, according to the National Kidney Federation.

At the end of the same year more than 6,000 UK patients were on the transplant list waiting for a kidney.

Lead researcher Dr Dimitrios Stamatialis, from the University of Twente, in The Netherlands, said: "This study shows the successful development of a living membrane, an important step towards the development of a bio-artificial kidney device.

"The strategies and methods of this work could be relevant to the development of other bio-artificial organs, such as a bio-artificial liver or bioartificial pancreas, and organs on chips - such as a kidney on chip, a lung on chip, or a liver on chip."

Details of the work were presented at the ASN Kidney Week meeting in the US.

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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 20, 2016
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