Bioengineering innovations to decrease failure rates of arteriovenous fistulas and grafts, improved infection control measures in catheter-based and peritoneal dialysis, and a new hemodialysis system designed for home use were the prize-winning “Redesign Dialysis Phase 2” innovations announced at the recent virtual KidneyX Summit.
KidneyX (the Kidney Innovation Accelerator) is a partnership between the American Society of Nephrology and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to promote innovations in kidney disease prevention, diagnostics, and treatment. Through a series of monetary prize competitions, KidneyX helps speed the development of new medical products by fostering collaboration among patients, health professionals, industry, innovators, and government experts.
This year’s summit continued the emphasis of the 2019 Redesign Dialysis Phase 1 competition, awarding grants of $500,000 to each prize winner. The competition received 70 submissions, which were reviewed under a rigorous two-phase process.
The need for true, patient-centered innovations in dialysis care is profound. Dialysis itself has changed relatively little in the past several decades, with huge financial impacts on the US healthcare system and on kidney patients’ quality of life.
“It will take collaboration across industries and disciplines to truly redesign dialysis and transform the status quo of kidney treatment, and that is what KidneyX is delivering,” said Eric Hargan, JD, HHS Deputy Secretary. “You have the chance to change not just the face of kidney care in America, but across the whole world.” Kidney health innovation is a top priority for HHS and will help achieve goals outlined in the Advancing American Kidney Health initiative.
Serial entrepreneur Dean Kamen, of DEKA Research & Development Corporation, gave the summit’s keynote address, noting that true innovations are so compelling that people are willing to change the way they do things. “An innovation actually solves a real human need,” he said. “It can be scaled practically. In the medical space, that not only means it has to be safe and reliable, but it has to be affordable.”
“What frustrated me about the kidney health innovation landscape was that everybody was talking in different rooms,” said panelist Sandeep Patel, PhD, the former HHS open innovation manager who played an integral role in establishing KidneyX. “And that doesn’t even get to all the engineers and scientists that don’t even know there is a problem to be solved. To me, that’s the power of KidneyX.” Patel is currently Director of the HHS BARDA Division of Research, Innovation, and Ventures.
KidneyX incorporates patient input at every step of evaluation, and the panelists and award winners highlighted the critical role of such perspectives in their innovations.