Wearable dialysis machine in the works

Singapore - Scientists are working on producing wearable dialysis machines that would enable patients to have their blood cleansed at home, a published report said on Saturday.

The devices would weigh less than 10 kilograms, much smaller than conventional machines weighing up to 10 times more.

Instead of travelling to dialysis centres, patients whose kidneys do not properly filter toxic wastes from the body can have their blood cleansed at home, while doing ordinary activities such as watching television, The Straits Times reported.

Scientists at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) are incorporating a layer of kidney cells into the machine that will reabsorb fluid and nutrients into the body after the blood is cleansed, said IBN executive director Jackie Ying.

Conventional machines do not have these kidney cells.

The re-absorption would allow nutrients to re-enter the blood and does away with the need for bulky machinery to hold fluid, the report said.

Patients also would not need to have injections to replace the nutrients lost during dialysis.

Ying told the newspaper it would be two or three years before the device could be tested on animals.

The number of people suffering from end-stage kidney failure in Singapore has nearly doubled in the past decade - from 562 new cases in 1997 to 1,084 new cases in 2006.

Kidney patients on haemodialysis - the process in which blood is extracted, put through a machine to be cleansed, and returned to the body - have to undergo treatment at a centre three times a week for four to five hours each session. (dpa)