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Strengths and Weaknesses of an Artificial Kidney based on the Use of Proximal Convoluted Tubule Cells

Paper Outline

The Kidney
Proximal Convoluted tubules
Artificial Kidney

The kidney is regarded as a remarkable body organ. It is usually small in size and comprises tissues and veins. It is the primary body organ for defence against pathogens present in fluids especially blood. The kidneys act as a seining system whose work is to draw pathogens out of the fluids for excretion out of the body. Indeed, the kidney does a credible job. However, it is prone to various problems based on the history and lifestyle of an individual, as well as physical injury (Himmelfar and Sayegh, 6). Such factors can contribute to alteration in the kidney functioning leading to total failure at times. Earlier on, cases related to kidney failure were associated with death unless it was one kidney and the other was healthy. Currently, the situation has changed with the introduction of modern technology that has enabled use of dialysis machines and artificial kidneys. Dialysis machines are essentially apparatus that act as a kidney. The machine is connected to an individual with kidney problems. However, dialysis is very costly and consumes much time. Apart from this, dialysis is extremely complex and impractical. In this respect, artificial kidneys were seen as a better alternative according to research done in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This paper will examine the strengths and weaknesses of artificial kidneys based on the use of proximal convoluted tubule cells.
The Kidney
To begin with, nephrons are the main functional units of a kidney. On the other hand, each nephron is comprised of the Bowman’s capsule and a coiled tubule that has three sections. Moreover, these components of the nephron are made of the proximal and distal convoluted tubules, the Henle loop, glomerular, and the collecting duct. Each of these tubules of the nephron empty the wastes into the collecting tubules which further empty into the pelvis, the main kidney cavern. Thereafter, it is emptied into the urinary bladder through the ureter. The urinary bladder stores the wastes awaiting elimination from the body using the urethra. The nephrons play the role of filtration on the kidney’s behalf. The blood is passed into the kidney and the nephrons for cleansing by the large renal veins. Here, the available pathogens in the blood are drawn out and emptied into the urinary bladder. Such toxins are excreted in a form of diluted acid commonly referred as urine. Human beings normally have two kidneys, but only one is necessary for blood filtration (Himmelfar and Sayegh, 14). In the instance of the problem with one kidney like renal failure, the other kidney can be used if it is in good condition. However, this may be dealt a big blow due to double failure of the kidneys or other factors, which are beyond individual control. This may prompt the affected individual to visit a dialysis centre frequently for blood filtration. Therefore, an artificial kidney would be the better option since it eliminates the mobility constraint.
Proximal Convoluted tubules
The proximal convoluted tubules (PCT) are small structures found in the nephron of a kidney. The lining of PCT is made up of the epithelial cells that are interconnected to each other coupled with tight joints and covered with a border of densely packed microvilli. This helps to prevent passage of waste products amongst other harmful materials to reach the bloodstream. The PCT filters the toxins in the blood and re-absorbs the useful materials needed by the body. The microvilli are of vital significance in this function. They increase the surface area for re-absorption of the useful material leaving the toxic ones to be filtered out of the blood. The lining of the PCT is further boosted by protein channels. These channels actively and passively transport substances across the PCT lining to the interstitial fluid where re-absorption takes place. Close to about seventy percent of water and sodium and a hundred percent of amino acids and glucose re-absorption occurs in the PCT. Besides these functions, the PCT controls the volume of urine in the urinary bladder.
Artificial Kidney
The idea about artificial kidneys was initiated by researchers in the Ann Arbor centre in Michigan, US. These researchers employed the use of real cells of a kidney in their model. These cells were obtained from a healthy kidney and then installed in the shell of their artificial model. The researchers hoped that the artificial kidney could perform many functions compared to a dialysis machine. However, the main function would be that of recalling the filtrate flows using the PCT together with cells lining to filter the fluid. In the research, the progenitor cells were isolated. These are the cells from which the tubule cells grew and developed. From there, an artificial kidney was constructed having small porous tubes which were coated at their interior with molecules attracting the tubule cells. The PCT cells were attracted to the inner surface forming a lining with the thickness corresponding to a single cell. The artificial kidney was aimed at filtering the wastes from the incoming blood similarly to a dialysis machine. Nonetheless, the device was expected to improve on haemodialysis. This is facilitated by the fact that the living cells can perform other functions. This proved successful as these kidneys functioned properly such as the real kidneys do while using a dog experiment. In order for the artificial kidneys to function, that is, perform haemodialysis, access is required. This enables blood to be filtered to flow out and then back to the body.
Three forms of access exist, and they include catheter, graft, and fistula. The other forms of access take time to be created as it requires surgery and not the catheter. For a catheter, it is immediately and easily available, and does not require surgery. It is placed either in a neck vein, chest or groin. One tube is allowed to let blood out the body whereas the other back to the body. As for the graft, it is surgically created on the forearm to connect the vein or artery to the artificial kidney. Three to six weeks are required to allow for the graft to heal and mature. Fistula is surgically created likewise to the graft. However, fistula takes longer recovery time probably months to heal and mature. For fistula, the veins or arteries are given ample time to grow stronger and bigger to handle dialysis. This eliminates the possibility of blood clotting. It also helps in avoiding infection during dialysis. Moreover, it last longer compared to the other two. For this reason, the fistula is the proffered from access. Two needles, one to allow blood flow out and the other flow back are embraced in both fistula and graft while undertaking dialysis. This inflicts pain to the patients where some may get used to it particularly for fistula using a buttonhole technique. This technique ensures the usage of exactly the same puncture during dialysis creating a scar over time thus making access so easy and less painful.
There are benefits related to artificial kidneys. First and foremost, artificial kidneys are claimed to prolong the lifespan of patients with kidney problems. Artificial kidneys have helped patients with acute kidney problems to stay alive while awaiting their kidneys to resume their functions normally. Moreover, artificial kidneys have enabled patients of chronic kidney failures to stay alive, although at the expense of time and cost. As research indicated, a lot of patients lived under long term dialysis before the onset of artificial kidneys. Despite the cost and time factors, this dialysis is prone to many complications, which shortened the patient’s lifespan. Amongst them is the filtration problem associated with its PCT functioning. Artificial kidneys have an enhanced PCT lining that traps and filters the toxins in the blood at the same time reabsorbing the beneficial materials back to the body. Artificial kidneys enhance flexibility in logistics and time. This is quite efficient for home based care. Once the dialysis centre is set, one requires no or little movement. In this case, an individual can manage his/her treatment schedule.
On the contrary, artificial kidneys also have some setbacks. One of the setbacks is related to its functioning. Kidney’s work is to filter out the toxins contained in the blood. As earlier mentioned, the kidney’s functions are enhanced by the proximal convoluted tubules. However, these tubules filter out not only the toxins in the blood but also useful materials, which are left to be expelled as urine. In this respect, proximal convoluted tubes are not used in the artificial kidneys. Therefore, alternatives were sort where Ann Arbor researcher’s carried test with dogs. The experiments used dogs having impaired kidneys. The results showed that the artificial kidney improved the condition of by 50 percent. In turn, this provided enough capacity to keep the dog alive till its condition improved. The proximal convoluted cells used in artificial kidneys are derived from pigs. However, this form of kidney replacement is found to be non-compatible with human beings. In the same breadth, the real kidney rejects some implants. Notably, the human body is noted to reject artificial kidneys.
The next big step in the quest for kidney problems cure lies in embracing the use of artificial kidneys. Most of the patients have relied on the dialysis machine for survival. This method has been faced with a lot of challenges and complications further worsening the conditions of the patients. This prompted the search of an alternative method which will outdo dialysis machine in terms of convenience, effectiveness and simplicity in usage. Artificial kidneys have been reached as the better alternative but have not satisfied all the standards. This paper has tried to establish the strengths and weaknesses of artificial kidneys based on the PCT functionality. Provide patients can have ample healing time for their kidney majority of patients can overcome the acute kidney failure. This calls a temporal way to enhance the functioning of kidneys. Artificial kidneys are assumed to be the perfect therapy, which will satisfy the kidney filtration function. Although artificial kidneys have saved many lives, it is not regarded as the substitute for a healthy kidney.

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