Skip to content
KidneyX Logo
wave gradient

Winning Solution: The Wearable AKTIV: Artificial Kidney to Improve Vitality

Wearable continuous-hemodialysis device that allows for greater freedom of movement

Jonathan Himmelfarb; University of Washington Center for Dialysis Innovation (CDI)

KidneyX Graphic
KidneyX Competition:

Artificial Kidney Prize, Phase 1

About the Solution

Kidney disease affects 37 million US adults and remains a devastating, worldwide medical, social, and economic problem. Patients receive hemodialysis (HD) in outpatient dialysis centers, spending 4 hours tethered to large machines 3 times/week for the rest of their lives. This treatment is non-physiological, and results in HD “washout”: extensive fatigue, nausea, and side effects caused by the buildup of toxins and fluid between treatments and their rapid removal over a 4-hour session. Patients don’t live full and productive lives because of the emotional and physical toll of dialysis, demanding treatment schedule, dietary/fluid limitations, and extreme mobility restrictions during treatment.

Working with dialysis patients and care partners, the Center for Dialysis Innovation (CDI) has totally rethought dialysis delivery to optimize patient care. We assembled an interdisciplinary scientific team and include patient advisors at every level. Our vision for the future of dialysis is the Ambulatory Kidney to Improve Vitality (AKTIV): a wearable HD device that restores patient mobility and dramatically improves the quality of life. More frequent dialysis improves patient well-being and reduces morbidity and mortality. The AKTIV enables continuous dialysis, more closely resembling natural kidney function. The AKTIV needs no connection to an external water source; will be lightweight and compact, and untethers the patient from the dialysis chair. The AKTIV will incorporate patient-friendly blood access and sensors to ensure safety.

We are guided by our CDI Patient Advisory Board, have a patient with dialysis and transplant experience on our CDI leadership team, and have embedded patients into our engineering teams. At CDI, we are solely dedicated to transforming dialysis. The AKTIV offers patients the opportunity to “live the life that they were meant to live”. We envision a better future for many millions of people now living with kidney disease and for those in the future.

About the Winner

Jonathan Himmelfarb, MD, FASN, is Director of the Kidney Research Institute, Professor of Medicine, Adjunct Professor of Bioengineering, and holds the Joseph W. Eschbach M.D. Endowed Chair in Kidney Research at the University of Washington. He is also co-Director of the University of Washington Center for Dialysis Innovation. Dr. Himmelfarb has served on numerous study sections and grant review committees, scientific advisory boards and has held leadership positions in many national and international nephrology societies. He has been a member of the American Board of Internal Medicine Subspecialty Board on Nephrology, a Councilor of the American Society of Nephrology (ASN), and was President of the ASN in 2014-2015. He has served on expert panels for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Veterans Health Administration, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and other organizations.

Dr. Himmelfarb has served on numerous editorial boards including the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN), Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN), Kidney International, BMC Medicine, the Faculty of 1000 in Medicine, and the Faculty of 1000 in Research. His current research interests include developing a wearable artificial kidney, development of a human ‘kidney-on-a-chip’, development and evaluation of risk biomarkers in acute kidney injury, and studies of Kidney Precision Medicine. Dr. Himmelfarb leads numerous investigator-initiated clinical trials and cohort studies, as well as multicenter collaborative studies. He is the author of more than 300 peer-reviewed publications, including original research, reviews, and editorials.