Despite advancements in hemodialysis, the five-year survival rate for end-stage, kidney-disease patients on this treatment is only 35 percent. In that context, there's a pressing need for a less-invasive and more-cost-effective method for estimating a dialysis patient’s absolute blood volume, which represents a crucial element in hemodialysis treatment. In response to this vital issue, Professor Yossi Chait of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department and Professor Christopher Hollot, the head of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department, are part of a pioneering research team with an elegant solution, which has earned a U.S. patent.

Chait and Hollot belong to the seven-person, interdisciplinary team of researchers that has received this patent for a revolutionary technique to estimate absolute blood volume much more accurately than is currently possible during the dialysis process. In essence, the research team is replacing the current state-of-the-art method, based on an overly simplistic physiological model, with a far-reaching new model that incorporates authentic physiological processes, which are much more complex than that used in the contemporary model.

The collaborative team that performed this groundbreaking research is made up of: Chait, Hollot, and Hamed Samandari (MIE department) from the UMass College of Engineering; Michael Germain (nephrology and dialysis technology) from Renal and Transplant Associates of New England; Danny Schneditz (theoretical and experimental physiology) from the Institute of Physiology at the Medical University of Graz in Austria; Brian Nathanson (biostatistics) from OptiStatim, LLC; and Joseph Horowitz from the UMass Amherst Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

In addition to being awarded U.S. patent number 11,896,748, the work of this team was also described in the January/February 2018 issue of the publication of the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs, the ASAIO Journal. See 64(1):p 77-85, January/February 2018. 

As the backstory to this research, the team explains that the five-year survival rate for end-stage kidney-disease patients is lower than that for many solid-organ cancer patients. Inadequate dialysis is known to impact this rate quite negatively, since fluid management presents a significant challenge for patients during the treatment. 

According to Chait, Hollot, and their fellow researchers, “Typically, fluid management relies on blood pressure as an indirect blood-volume indicator, but recent findings emphasize the need for better strategies. Modern dialysis machines can detect changes in relative blood volume, yet their effectiveness in fluid management remains controversial due to their inability to assess absolute volume accurately.” 

Accordingly, say the researchers, “Absolute blood-volume measurements have proven valuable in optimizing hemodynamic stability in intensive- and cardiac-care units, prompting speculation about their potential benefits in hemodialysis care. However, the reference methods for measuring absolute blood volume involve invasive and costly radiolabeled tracers, which have not been adopted in routine hemodialysis care.” 

This patented new method solves the pressing need for a less invasive and more-cost-effective method of calculating absolute blood volume and thus refining the hemodialysis process.

According to the researchers, “Our team has pioneered a novel technique for accurately estimating absolute blood volume during dialysis, seamlessly integrating it into existing machine technology.”

The team members go on to explain that “This innovative method harnesses a sophisticated physiological model that calculates blood volume based on temporal measurements of hemoconcentration using a saline dilution protocol. Unlike conventional approaches, our model incorporates intricate physiological processes, resulting in a substantial enhancement in precision.” 

The team of researchers concludes that “Specifically, our estimation algorithm addresses the limitations of current dilution methods, which rely on simplistic, linear, single-pool models. By accounting for the complexities of physiology, our approach delivers a remarkable 50-percent improvement in the precision of absolute blood-volume estimates compared to existing methods.” (March 2024) 

Article posted in Research