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Synchrotron research focus on reducing dialysis side effects

Scientists develop new coating to protect kidney failure patients
001 Synchrotron
A new membrane coating is more compatible with the human body and has resulted in fewer side effects for patients. Synchrotron allows real-time visualization in three dimensions.

SASKATOON – One in every 10 Canadians has kidney disease, according to the Kidney Foundation.

Researchers from the University of Saskatchewan and St. Paul’s Hospital in Saskatoon used the Canadian Light Source at USask to help improve health outcomes for patients on dialysis.

A main function of the kidneys is to remove toxins from the body. When they stop functioning properly, patients go on dialysis where their blood gets filtered by an artificial membrane. However, this process can cause inflammation and adverse side effects.

Dr. Ahmed Shoker, a professor with the USask College of Medicine and Medical Director of the Saskatchewan Transplant Program at St. Paul’s Hospital, and Dr. Amira Abdelrasoul, assistant professor with the USask College of Engineering, Chemical and Biological Engineering Department, want to improve dialysis and the design of these membranes.

“We comprehensively tested two hemodialysis membranes currently in use in Canadian hospitals,” said Abdelrasoul. “Our aim was to explore how membranes interact with the patient’s blood.”

The team has developed a membrane coating that is more compatible with the human body and has resulted in fewer side effects for patients.

“It’s not possible to do the research we’re doing without the CLS,” she added. “Their imaging techniques allowed us to understand the blood protein behaviour at all points of the filtration process and at all times. So, we could monitor when, how, and why a protein aggregates and blocks the membrane pores under different operating conditions. It allowed us also to have real-time visualization in three dimensions.”

The researchers say they are hopeful this innovation, which they are continuing to test and develop, will help to minimize the side effects experienced by kidney disease patients.