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The promise of bioartificial organs

Dr. Shuvo Roy, Bioengineer

UCSF bioengineer Shuvo Roy and his team have created the world’s first bionic kidney. The coffee-cup-sized device includes a silicon nanotechnology filter to cleanse the blood, while living kidney cells grown in a bioreactor perform the other functions of a natural kidney. A bioartificial kidney could save kidney patients from being stuck on a dialysis machine for life – or dying while waiting for a rare transplant. But is the promise of such a life-changing device enough to convince investors to bring such a thing to market? We talk through the ethics of artificial organs.


“How do we get from here to making our innovations available to patients? Most of the products that are coming to market, they’re all about a half a billion dollars of investment to get there.”

— Dr. Bill Fissell