PhD - Leuven | More than two weeks ago
Develop on-chip technology to improve the lives of patients with end stage kidney disease
Hemodialysis (HD) is a life-sustaining kidney replacement therapy that partially replaces glomerular filtration, but not tubular function of the kidney. As such, toxin removal efficiency of conventional HD decreases with molecule size and stops at the size of albumin (which must be retained in the blood). Extra difficult to remove are the so-called protein-bound uremic toxins (PBUTs), due to their strong binding with albumin. PBUTs affect a host of biological systems that contribute to the uremic syndrome, mainly inflammation and cardiovascular damage. PBUTs have also been recently linked to cognitive function decline in CKD patients. Thus, any artificial kidney, either portable, wearable or implantable, would profit from improved PBUT removal.
Research from RWTH Aachen has shown that strong high frequency electromagnetic (EM) fields can shift the dynamic equilibrium of protein-binding for toxins further to a non-bound state, thereby enabling removal of the freed toxins via the dialysis membrane. This core technology has been patented. However, producing such strong EM fields currently requires large and expensive devices, which limits present use to non-portable/non-implantable devices.
In the first phase of the project, the PhD candidate will be asked to theoretically describe the principle of EM fields to shake loose PBUT from albumin. The student will describe strategies to increase the field strength at the dialysis filter pores and will, both with simulations and lab experiments, describe which frequencies and field strengths will be needed for an optimal clearance of PBUTs. In this first phase there will be a close collaboration with the University Medical Center Utrecht to perform tests in whole blood to measure the efficacy of the solutions. After a clear understanding of the theory and principles the student will be asked to develop a system-on-chip approach that can be integrated on the Si-based filter that IMEC is currently developing.
Skills and background:
Required background: Electrical engineering (system)
Type of work: 10% literature, 40% system design & test setup building, 50% experimental
Supervisor: Chris Van Hoof
Co-supervisor: Nick Van Helleputte
Daily advisor: Lucas Lindeboom, Geert Langereis
The reference code for this position is 2023-125. Mention this reference code on your application form.