IU scientists identify therapy with potential to eliminate dialysis need

Dr. Robert Bacallao of the School of Medicine points at a colorful image of a kidney on a computer while a student looks on.

Scientists at Indiana University have identified a therapy that could help reverse damage from acute kidney injury and eliminate the need for dialysis treatment in the future.

Acute kidney injury commonly occurs after either cardiac surgery or prolonged vascular surgery procedures, said lead researcher Dr. Robert L. Bacallao, associate professor of medicine at IU School of Medicine. It can also occur with blood loss from trauma, so it’s a frequent problem for the military.

portrait of Dr. Robert Bacallao
Dr. Robert Bacallao

“It’s almost like a classic cable-TV problem,” he said. “If you have a good cable running through your neighborhood, but then the last 10 feet going to your house doesn’t work, as far as you’re concerned, you have bad cable. That’s what we’re seeing in acute kidney injury: It’s that last little bit that seems to be affected, and this procedure repairs that.”

Bacallao is co-founder and chief scientific officer of Rene Medical, which was formed to commercialize the research just published. The company licensed it from the Indiana University Research and Technology Corp. and is a member of IURTC’s Spin Up entrepreneurial program.

“We have raised $100,000 in funding and have conducted a successful proof-of-concept study in a large animal model,” Bacallao said. “Our next steps include another large animal study refining our first-generation catheter and creating a proprietary device to perform the procedure reproducibly and safely.”

More information about the research and its commercialization is available online.

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