Prof Dr Ahmad Fauzi Ismail, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) deputy vice-chancellor (research and innovation) and the project head, said his team had produced a haemodialyser completely out of high quality plastic membrane.
Haemodialyser of internationally-comparable quality
Prof Ismail added that the haemodialyser, which acts as a filter in the blood purification process during dialysis, was even comparable to that of the imported apparatuses being used currently at the dialysis centres around the nation.
Speaking at a press conference held at the UTM Skudai campus on 12 June, Prof Ismail elaborated that “the haemodialyser that we developed is more productive as it has a quicker blood purification rate, which is 14 litres a minute compared to eight litres per minute by imported machines.” This makes it 30% faster than international competitors.
“As academics, it is our responsibility to create a device that is able to leave a big impact in society, especially on those suffering from kidney problems,” he added.
Increasing demand for a cost-efficient device
According to statistics from the National Kidney Foundation (NKF), the number of kidney failure patients has increased from 12,182 patients in 2005 to 38,157 last year. That number is expected to increase to 43,000 patients this year.
“One in 12 Malaysians is at risk of developing kidney disease which will result in them losing 85 – 90% of their kidney function,” said Prof Ismail.
“As for costs, each patient spends an average RM25,272 a year to undergo treatment and the total cost of treatment could reach over RM960 million.”
“The problem is,” according to Prof Ismail, “Malaysia has no choice but to import dialysis machines from countries such as United States, Germany, Japan and China. The cost is expensive.”
“By having a locally-made dialysis machine, we expect the cost to drop by 30% for kidney patients, which is a good step in cost reduction,” he explained.
He also added that the new haemodialyser would be in the local market within the next couple of years. Prof Ismail described the four phases to the project whereby the first phase would include the preparation of 1,000 haemodialysis machines. This will entail a fund of RM5 million for marketing purposes.
“The second phase will see the design and construction of the haemodialysis machines, which require additional funding of RM15 million, while feasibility studies, pre-clinical and clinical trials would be conducted within the next five years,” he continued.
He also added that UTM has the aspiration, technical expertise and manpower required to create local haemodialyser products that would have a substantial impact on the Malaysian society.
“We have signed a memorandum of understanding with Foresight Industries Sdn Bhd in March last year for the development of the device where it provided a fund of RM1 million to build a clean room for the R&D of the device.”
“If there are corporations interested to invest in the commercial production of the device, we would welcome them,” said Prof Ismail. MIMS
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