Newsletter & Updates

February 2023

Research & Development Update

Thanks to the support of our funders and patient community, The Kidney Project has continued to make real progress towards our goal of creating an implantable bioartificial kidney (iBAK) that will free patients from dialysis. 

Despite the delays and supply chain crises of the pandemic, 2022 saw us successfully implant a bioartificial kidney prototype into a pig. In this 3-day proof-of-concept experiment, the silicon membrane filter did not clot or clog, and produced a GFR equivalent to about 4 microliters per minute. The bioreactor of living kidney cells functioned exactly as needed and produced urine. The cells stayed alive and healthy in the bioreactor for the duration of the experiment. Of course, filtration capacity will need to be scaled up to treat human patients, but this demonstration proved that the key components of our device work as intended. 

Our team also overcame an important cell culture challenge in 2022. Often when researchers grow cells in a lab dish, the cells lose the critical functions that they provide in a healthy body. We had previously shown that cell signaling pathways are affected by the stiffness of the materials on which the cells are grown. We recently showed that we are able to "unlock" a wide range of kidney cell behavior and were able to keep kidney cells alive and functional for 11 months -- which bodes well for having a permanent implant that provides kidney function for years. This work has been accepted into the journal Tissue Engineering Part A and was presented at the American Society of Nephrology Meeting in November, 2022.

Fundraising Update 

In our July 2022 YouTube Live Q&A, Technical Director Dr. Shuvo Roy shared that The Kidney Project needs approximately USD 10 Million to reach the first human clinical trials in the next 3-4 years. Since then, we have raised nearly $780,000 in gifts from our foundation partners (the John and Marcia Goldman Foundation and the Wildwood Foundation) and the grassroots efforts of our community, including proceeds from The Kidney Project Store, sales of Mantis BBQ’s BBQ Sauce to Save Lives, crowdfunding campaigns, and donations from individual supporters.

We are extremely grateful for the generosity of our community and encouraged by the growing number of creative ways our supporters are fundraising for us. To arrive at trials within 3-4 years, however, it is critical that we secure larger funding commitments that will allow us to take the expensive steps necessary to scale up our device for human clinical trials. Thus, we are doubling down on our fundraising activities in 2023 and encourage you to spread the word about The Kidney Project to anyone who may be able to help.