Hemodialysis is an effective tool for treating people with kidney failure, but the devices that filter uremic toxins out of blood tend to be large, expensive, and require quite a bit of maintenance. This means that many people around the world suffer needlessly from a treatable condition. Researchers at National Institute for Materials Science in Japan have now developed a nanofiber mesh capable of removing uremic toxins that allows for significant miniaturization of dialysis devices.
The mesh is made by electrospinning polyethylene-co-vinyl alchohol (EVOH) polymer and zeolites, aluminosilicates that absorb toxins. The ratio of silicon to aluminum within the zeolites controls the amount of toxins adsorbed, and the team experimented with various amounts to find the best results. Though the technology is not ready for prime-time, the team believes that small, wrist-worn hemodialysis devices will be available based on their technology in the not too distant future.
From the study abstract:
Scanning electron microscope (SEM) images revealed that the 7 w/v% EVOH solution produced non-woven fibers with a continuous and smooth morphology. The SEM also showed that over 90% of zeolites in the solution were successfully incorporated into the EVOH nanofibers. Although the barrier properties of the EVOH matrix lowered the creatinine adsorption capacity of the zeolites in the fiber when compared with adsorption to free zeolites, their adsorption capacity was still 67% of the free zeolites. The proposed composite fibers have the potential to be utilized as a new approach to removing nitrogenous waste products from the bloodstream without the requirement of specialized equipment.
Study in Biomaterials Science: Fabrication of zeolite–polymer composite nanofibers for removal of uremic toxins from kidney failure patients
Press release: A simple way to treat kidney failure