University of Saskatchewan researchers aim to create an artificial wearable kidney that would reduce the need for hospital visits and decrease health care costs.

“We are just at the first stage of a long research program, but our eventual aim is an artificial wearable kidney that is compatible with the human body and will increase life expectancy,” Amira Abdelrasoul, an assistant professor in the College of Engineering who leads the university’s membrane science and nanotechnology research team, said in a news release.

“My main goal is to enable kidney failure patients to have a better quality of life and to prolong their survival.”

People suffering kidney failure are hooked up to a dialysis machine in hospital or at home. Some suffer complications, including inflammation, and have reduced life expectancy.

Kidney failure affects 10 per cent of the world’s population and more than three million Canadians.

“The first stage of a portable kidney research program is the creation of a novel highly efficient dialysis membrane, designed to be less likely to be rejected by the body, which would clear the blood of toxic materials. The membrane will mimic the way the kidney filters the blood,” Abdelrasoul said in the release.

The research program has been awarded $250,000 in federal funding and will make use of the Canadian Light Source synchrotron.