Nephrologist receives national prize for wearable blood clot alert device

Vinay Narasimha Krishna, M.D., received one of 15 KidneyX Redesign Dialysis prizes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the American Society of Nephrology.

VinayJoomlaVinay Narasimha Krishna, M.D.A nephrologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham is one step closer to helping patients on dialysis. Vinay Narasimha Krishna, M.D., an assistant professor in the Division of Nephrology at UAB, received one of 15 KidneyX Redesign Dialysis prizes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the American Society of Nephrology.

The goal of the KidneyX competition is to accelerate the development of innovative medical products and approaches that can improve the way physicians prevent, diagnose and treat kidney diseases. Krishna was awarded for the development of a non-invasive, wearable telehealth device that detects thrombosis and monitors the presence or absence of blood flow in the arteriovenous fistula or graft of patients undergoing hemodialysis. The device will alert patients when they develop a blood clot.

“The device detects clot formation in real time and gives the patients and their health care team lead time to prepare for clot removal by arranging for an early referral,” Krishna said. “This decreases time to intervention for the patients and helps avoid delayed referral-related medical complications.”

According to Krishna, clots often cause a major disruption in patients’ treatment programs.

“Some 84 percent of patients with clotted accesses I reviewed did not even realize they had a clot until they presented for their dialysis appointment,” Krishna explained. “So, instead of receiving their treatment — which is not pleasant in itself — they now have to first undergo a procedure to remove the clot. Then, they usually have to reschedule their treatment, causing issues for them and their caregivers. If they go too long without dialysis, they can experience major physical complications, such as not being able to breathe due to fluid buildup in their lungs.”

The device is wearable and is worn over the patient’s arteriovenous fistula or graft by means of skin-safe adhesives, like a bandage.

“The device has MEMS sensors that capture sound energy generated by blood flow and transmits it wirelessly to a processor module that predicts presence or absence of blood flow by means of machine learning algorithms,” Krishna said. “When no blood flow is detected because of clot formation, the patient and their health care team are alerted about the event.”

Krishna received $75,000 from the KidneyX prize to continue to develop the device. He has already developed a prototype and is currently working on miniaturizing it with the help of Mohammed Haider, Ph.D., and Steven Gardner, a graduate research assistant in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

“This award recognizes innovation and entrepreneurship by investigators at UAB who are performing cutting-edge research that would greatly benefit the lives of patients with kidney diseases,” said Anupam Agarwal, M.D., director of the Division of Nephrology at UAB.

The second part of KidneyX is Phase 2 of Redesign Dialysis, where innovators will be asked to develop and demonstrate functional and testable prototypes that can replicate some or all kidney functions. The winners of Phase 2 will receive $500,000.