The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Chait Co-chairs Groundbreaking Project to Improve Quality of Life for Patients with Kidney Failure

Yossi Chait

Yossi Chait

Professor Yossi Chait of the Mechanical an Industrial Engineering Department was one of the two co-chairs for the "Fostering Innovation in Fluid Management" working group, a project formed by the Kidney Health Initiative (KHI) to produce a supplement to the KHI’s Technology Roadmap for Innovative Approaches to Renal Replacement Therapy. Chait’s supplement and the accompanying report are aimed at spurring innovation in fluid management devices and techniques that will improve the quality of life of people with kidney failure.

Chait is the director of the Control in Biomedical Systems Research Laboratory, whose mission is to develop feedback control methods and tools for biomedical applications.

The KHI mission is to catalyze innovation and the development of safe and effective patient-centered therapies for people living with kidney diseases. The KHI was established in September of 2012 under a memorandum of understanding between the American Society of Nephrology and U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

This supplement was the first KHI project to be co-chaired by a patient (Derek Forfang), and the working group consisted of 15 patients, clinicians, researchers, and technology developers.

As the KHI supplement explains, a critical function of renal replacement therapy is maintaining volume balance through fluid management. The KHI affirms that today's innovators can change the status quo in fluid management for people with kidney failure. In that context, the KHI recently released its supplement.

“For patients with end stage renal disease, renal replacement therapy partially replaces the functions of a normal kidney, including maintaining volume balance,” says the KHI supplement. “Proper volume balance is critical: Either too much volume or too little volume can lead to complications, ranging in severity from headache and fatigue or cramping and edema, to intradialytic hypotension and hospitalization.”

The supplement adds that “Optimizing volume balance can help prevent these complications and improve blood pressure, which in some cases may eliminate the need for antihypertensive medications.”

The supplement goes on to explain how innovative advances to improve fluid management could have a significant impact on not only morbidity and mortality rates but also quality of life among patients on maintenance dialysis.

Motivated by the initial work of The Technology Roadmap for Innovative Approaches to Renal Replacement Therapy, the KHI organized a working group co-chaired by Chait and tasked with producing guidance to spur innovation in fluid management devices and techniques—from both inside and outside of the nephrology community—that will improve the quality of life of end stage renal patients.

Leveraging the research activities outlined in the roadmap as well as technologies from other application areas (e.g., wearable devices such as glucose monitors as well as ultrasonography), this supplement: outlines patient priorities; assesses currently available devices and techniques; identifies gaps and challenges that must be overcome; and recommends design specifications needed for near- and long-term solutions that can overcome those challenges and meet patient expectations. (October 2019)