October 21, 2022
Jasmin Wong (L), Director and CEO of Dialyss, and
Dr Christian Bluechel (R), co-founder of Dialyss.
Dialyss’ sorbent technology is the first regenerative dialysis technology to comply with the strict requirements of today’s industry standards for hemodialysis devices. It is the key enabler for the miniatuarisation and cost effectiveness of the portable home hemodialysis device, Neokidney. Dialyss was acquired by Neokidney’s parent company, NextKidney, in early 2022 to combine the expertise of both companies in bringingthe device to market in 2024.
1. How does dialysis usually work, and how does this differ from Dialyss’ technology?
There hasn’t been much innovation in the field of dialysis for the past 50 years, unlike other medical areas like cardiology, diabetes management, and plastic surgery.
Majority of dialysis patients with kidney failure or end-stage renal disease in Singapore are on hemodialysis—more specifically, single pass dialysis systems paired with reverse osmosis water purification. This involves blood being pumped out of patients’ bodies and into an artificial kidney machine, where blood will be filtered through a dialyser before being pumped back into patients’ bodies..These systems are bulky, immobile, and use large volumes of water (about 120 litres), so patients would have to travel down to dialysis centres three to five times a week for dialysis that lasts about four hours each time.
However, our sorbent technology only requires five litres of fluid per dialysis session. It allows patients to carry out hemodialysis treatment in the comfort of their own homes, and gives patients the freedom to take charge of their dialysis schedule. Our technology also does not require additional water or drainage, so it can be easily used in areas affected by disasters like tsunamis, hurricanes, and warfare.
2. What is the significance of making dialysis more portable?
Singapore is ranked first in the world for diabetes-related kidney failure, with 5.5 new patients in Singapore diagnosed with kidney failure daily on average. For many of these patients, dialysis is the focal point around which their life and the lives of their family revolves because of how time- and energy-consuming it is. Portable dialysis devices would give these patients full freedom to choose the location of their treatment, and even allow them to travel while being treated.
We are currently developing a portable sorbent-based home hemodialysis device with NextKidney, a med-tech company based in Switzerland. The total weight of the device is less than 10kg, and fits into cabin sized luggage. This makes the Neokidney the lightest and most compact hemodialysis device in the market.
3. What were some of the challenges you faced since starting up Dialyss?
We moved into The Galen at the start of the pandemic in 2020. It was difficult setting up a new office and laboratory due to the restrictions in place, and disruptions on the logistics side.
Despite these challenges, we’re now well on our way to completing and marketing our portable hemodialysis device in 2024.
4. You’ve personally been in the med-tech industry for quite a while now. What is it that keeps you going?
I started off as a nurse working with patients with kidney failure. I learnt a lot about the challenges faced by patients and their families, and wanted to help them overcome these challenges in a practical way. At the same time, I am also inspired by stories of patients around the world who refuse to let dialysis stop them from having adventures, chasing their dreams, and enjoying life. This pushes my team and I to create solutions that would make a difference in a patient’s quality of life. Our technology aims to improve the efficiency of dialysis treatments, and make treatment more accessible and affordable for all patients, especially those in rural areas.
5. What are your hopes for the future of Dialyss?
We are currently working towards commercialising our device in Europe, US and Asia by expanding our development and manufacturing capacity in Asia.
Sorbent-based hemodialysis is not well known in Singapore, so another one of our goals is to work closely with local physicians and government agencies to spread a greater awareness of its benefits to patients, our healthcare system, and government.
Though most of the work that AMILI and Dialyss do are behind closed laboratory doors, the impacts of their research and products have the potential to improve many lives, and are making waves in their respective industries not just in Singapore, but in the region as well.
That said, we’re excited to see how much further they’ll go in the near future.