Kidney microchips could save hospital patients’ lives

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A microchip for kidneys could save lives in the ICU.

If you end up in the hospital, doctors may use drugs to save your life. Those drugs can be dangerously toxic to the kidneys, and often, it is difficult to predict how each patient’s kidneys will react.

Scientists at the University of Michigan developed a “kidney-on-a-chip” that should make testing these effects more efficient, and more reliable.

The kidneys control waste management, regulate fluids and balance our body’s minerals. They also help produce red blood cells.

Damage to an organ with so many important functions can be a serious medical problem.

Up to 2 out of 3 patients who end up in the ICU end up with some level of kidney damage. They are more likely to already be on other medications or have other medical conditions and also typically end up having several treatments at one time.

The chip that the research team created mimics the kidney, simulating the filtering process for the drugs and giving doctors a more accurate way to study how the medications behave in the body.

Doctors could one day use it in real time to see how a drug might impact a patient, and use that information to help make decisions in the ICU that could save lives.

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