Cool Stuff from the 2015 American Society of Nephrology Meeting
If you didn’t make it to San Diego for this year’s ASN meeting—or you did but didn’t get to the exhibit hall (which was huge!), you might appreciate a quick picture tour of some of the coolest things I saw related to home dialysis. I didn’t get everywhere, so apologies if I missed something! For fairness purposes, they are in alphabetical order.
AWAK Technologies – Wearable PD
Currently in clinical trials in Singapore before coming to the US, this small, sleek, sorbent-based PD device that will regenerate PD fluid is the most portable I’ve seen yet. (I didn’t measure it, but it looked to be about 2” thick, and maybe 9” x 9”?) Per their website, the device weighs about a kilo (2.2 lbs.), and AWAK is also working on a sorbent device for wearable HD—and, down the road, for liver and lung dialysis.
Baxter Amia PD Cycler
The Ah-mia (that’s how you say it) cycler isn’t as small as the AWAK, but it is FDA-approved in the US, so we should start to see more of them in the field soon. At just 18 lbs., it’s about half the weight of other PD cyclers on the market, and comes complete with a travel case. And, it has a touch screen, offers voice control, and two-way communication between PD-ers and their care teams. I couldn’t find the Amia on the Baxter website yet, just a press release.
Using online support via an iPad, NxStage’s Nx2Me platform (it’s a free iTunes app) is helping people to complete home HD training and avoid dropout during the scary, critical first few weeks and months at home. Folks in our Facebook group are asking when their clinics will get this. Also, the NxStage folks had chocolate—perhaps as a reminder that people who get better dialysis can eat chocolate? Or, just because doctors like it? I didn’t eat any, but it looked beautiful!
Outset likes to think outside the box, and their booth was…a box. Well, a wooden crate. It was eye-catching, though, which is the whole point of a booth. Inside, they had the new Tablo, which is FDA-approved for clinics and hospitals (trials are ongoing for home use), and easy to use, with a friendly pop-up touchscreen user interface. It makes its own dialysate, so no bags to store. But, with multiple functions (tap water purification, dialysate, dialysis, medications), it’s not especially small or portable. Based on user input, the color was changed from black to dark blue.
Relaxis – Restless Legs Treatment
The Relaxis device isn’t directly related to home dialysis, but folks who suffer from restless legs syndrome (RLS) may have trouble enduring extended—or even “regular” length treatments, so I’m including our next-door booth neighbors. A doctor who had RLS himself tried out combinations of vibration frequencies on people to see what range would calm nerves without stimulating muscles and waking people up. The device is FDA-approved, and used only when symptoms are present. It’s pricey at $800, but there’s a 30-day free trial and a $100 rebate. Hopefully the price will come down.
Triomed – Carry Life
I’d never heard of Triomed, which is unusual, since I try to keep my ear to the ground in this field. Their “Carry Life” device is in the pipeline for portable, wearable PD in what looks to be a container about the same size as the AWAK, worn as a purse (or murse). Clinical trials will begin in Sweden in 2016. Interestingly, they had a pediatric hemodialyzer tucked into it that will not be part of the device when it’s done.
VitalAccess - VWing
“Freehand” buttonhole cannulation has been a problem, especially when people transition from a training program to home and the furniture and cannulation angle change. The Vwing is a titanium needle guide that a vascular surgeon sews onto the fistula, under the skin, for guided cannulation. Having one or two (depending on the fistula) improves cannulation accuracy and may be especially helpful for deep fistulas. (Note: I didn’t think to get a photo of this on the first day of ASN; they sent me an illustration).
With all of the talk about the bundled payment impeding innovation, it certainly seems as if there are plenty of current and future products in the work to make dialysis more portable, easy, convenient, and safe in the near horizon. And, these don’t even include other exciting developments like an implantable artificial kidney—which just attracted a 4-year, $6M NIH grant to Vanderbilt and UCSF—or 3D printing. Hang in there, dialyzors. Cool stuff is on the way, or already here.