Hemodialysis using hollow-fiber membranes provides life-sustaining treatment for nearly 2 million patients worldwide with end stage renal disease (ESRD). However, patients on hemodialysis have worse long-term outcomes compared to kidney transplant or other chronic illnesses. Additionally, the underlying membrane technology of polymer hollow-fiber membranes has not fundamentally changed in over four decades. Therefore, we have proposed a fundamentally different approach using microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) fabrication techniques to create thin-flat sheets of silicon-based membranes for implantable or portable hemodialysis applications. The silicon nanopore membranes (SNM) have biomimetic slit-pore geometry and uniform pores size distribution that allow for exceptional permeability and selectivity. A quantitative diffusion model identified structural limits to diffusive solute transport and motivated a new microfabrication technique to create SNM with enhanced diffusive transport. We performed in vitro testing and extracorporeal testing in pigs on prototype membranes with an effective surface area of 2.52 cm2 and 2.02 cm2, respectively. The diffusive clearance was a two-fold improvement in with the new microfabrication technique and was consistent with our mathematical model. These results establish the feasibility of using SNM for hemodialysis applications with additional scale-up.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)