Over two million people worldwide suffer from End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), where their kidneys are no longer able to support their day-to-day life. These patients are heavily dependent on dialysis to remove waste products and excess water from the body. However, survival rates of patients undergoing dialysis is less than 40 percent in 5 years. In addition, complications of dialysis include heart disease, hypertension, anemia, bone disease, poor nutrition, inflammation, depression, and impaired cognitive and physical function, resulting in impaired quality of life.
The Waterloo, Canada-based startup Qidni Labs is determined to disrupt the dialysis industry, and is working on implantable renal replacement therapy, or artificial kidneys, to help patients living with ESRD. The artificial kidneys are based on advanced nano-filtration technologies, which are robust, durable, biocompatible and chemical-resistant. The implants consists of pores within the 1 to 10 nanometer range, and are able to filter the blood, blocking the passage of bacteria and viruses. The innovative artificial kidneys free patients from machine-based treatments and improve survival rates.
The artificial kidneys give patients the opportunity to have access to renal replacement therapy continuously and at all times, significantly reducing costs associated with dialysis equipment, caregivers and insurance providers. Dialysis costs an average of $89,000 per patient annually, a staggering total of $42 billion per year in the US alone. In addition, patients will not have to visit dialysis clinics several times a week, and the implant could significantly decrease complications and lifestyle restrictions that people on dialysis experience every day. These factors not only improve quality of life and survival rates for close to 3 million patients worldwide, but could potentially play a major role in increasing access to lifesaving treatment.
The technology can also be used in non-medical applications, and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) believes the filters can be used for cleaning air inside a spacecraft, keeping fluids clean inside radar systems and ensuring astronaut food is free of viruses and bacteria. CSA awarded the company a $200,000 grant to continue its prototyping and development work.
Qidni Labs was founded by Morteza Ahmadi in 2014 with the help of the Velocity Science lab after receiving his Ph.D from University of Waterloo. The startup was a semifinalist in 2016 OneStart, and recently announced they had received funding from SOSV –The Accelerator VC, and that they had joined the accelerator IndieBio SF.