USask researchers have developed a better membrane for dialysis machines that could lead to safer treatment, improved quality of life for patients with kidney failure.
Over two million people worldwide depend on dialysis or a kidney transplant, according to the National Kidney Foundation. In Canada, the number of individuals facing kidney failure has climbed 35 per cent since 2009 and nearly half (46 per cent) of new kidney disease patients are under age 65, according to The Kidney Foundation of Canada.
Using the Canadian Light Source (CLS) at the University of Saskatchewan (USask), researchers have developed a better membrane for dialysis machines that could lead to safer treatment and improved quality of life for patients with kidney failure.
A dialysis machine is used to filter toxins, waste products, salts, and excess fluid from a patient’s blood when their kidneys can no longer perform this function well. However, negative reactions between dialysis membranes and the patient’s blood can lead to serious complications like blood clots, heart conditions, anemia, blood poisoning, infections, and more.
Dr. Amira Abdelrasoul, an associate professor with USask’s College of Engineering, is an expert on membranes and is determined to help patients on dialysis. “I lost a close family member due to dialysis,” she said. “I saw all the complications he experienced and how he suffered. So, I put all my efforts, knowledge, and background into this research area because I would like to support patients and avoid anyone having to lose a loved one from this treatment.”
The new dialysis membrane developed by her team is a significant improvement over those used in hospitals today, according to Abdelrasoul. Some of the commercial membranes currently in use contain heparin, a medicine that reduces blood clots; however, they also have an intense negative charge on their surface that causes serious side effects.
Read more on the CLS website