Islamabad: By the time people are diagnosed with advanced-stage kidney disease and recommended dialysis treatments, they have been through a lot of pain and agony. To make the treatment process bloodless, hassle-free and affordable, Pakistan’s first dialysis machine has been developed by biotechnology startup in Lahore led by experts of a US-based company called Byonyks Medical Devices with support from Pakistan’s Ignite, which funds innovative startups, and Angel investors.
“Robo-Kidney is an affordable and bloodless machine that will allow kidney patients to receive dialysis treatment from the comfort of their homes”, says founder and CEO of Byonyks, Farrukh Usman - a Pakistani-American innovator. The machine also protects them from diseases such as HIV or Hepatitis C infections – a risk posed by traditional dialysis practices. Designed in consultation with Pakistan’s leading nephrologists and medical expert, the machine has been developed to improve the quality of life of people suffering from kidney failure.
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The company, founded by MIT and Harvard graduates and medical device experts, Farrukh Usman, Michael, Wollowitz, Eric Flachbart and Dr. Frank Rudolph, aims to offer low-cost, affordable and widely accessible state-of-the-art medical devices for the developing world to revolutionize healthcare therapy for millions across the world. They have also received a patent for their technology.
20 million sufferers
More than 20 million Pakistanis have kidney diseases. Two treatments for those with chronic kidney disease (CKD) are kidney transplants and dialysis. In Pakistan, only hemodialysis machines are available which removes a patient’s blood, run it through a dialysis machine to remove toxins and excess fluid and return cleaned blood to the body. Hemodialysis is performed at a dialysis center several times a month, each session lasting a few hours, making it a tiresome, arduous and expensive process. Another option now gaining popularity is at-home dialysis performed while the patients are asleep at night. Known as automated peritoneal dialysis (APD), this bloodless method of dialysis with the use of a special machine removes toxins and excess fluid from the body by instilling fluid in the belly and subsequently draining it.
Byonyks will be manufacturing these APD machines in Pakistan for both local and global markets. The innovative device “will improve the wellbeing of kidney dialysis patients, reduce Pakistan’s disease burden while improving the economy by enhancing national industrial production capability and export to global markets,” the company said.
At least 61 per cent of Pakistanis suffering from kidney failure do not have access to dialysis, the company shared, adding that the cost-effective and portable devices by Byonyks will improve health standards in Pakistan, offering patients a productive and active lifestyle irrespective of their financial status. Robo-Kidney is expected to undergo mass production within the next few months and the company has started signing up for the first batch of patients on its website.
Improving potential in biotechnology
Usman recently held a meeting Minister for IT and Telecommunication Syed Amin ul Haque and CEO of Ignite, Syed Junaid Imam, to discuss the potential of the device that has benefitted multiple patients under the supervision of Pakistan’s top nephrologists. Assuring the IT ministry’s support to the company, he appreciated the team’s effort to help kidney patients get rid of expensive treatment and for putting the country among the leading medical equipment developers of the world. Syed Junaid Imam added that Ignite’s SEED funding is actively looking out for innovative ideas that could be turned into a commercially viable product and serve the masses.