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Nanonephrology is a branch of nanomedicine and nanotechnology that deals with:

  1. the study of kidney protein structures at the atomic level;
  2. nano-imaging approaches to study cellular processes in kidney cells; and
  3. novel medical treatments that utilize nanoparticles and to treat various kidney diseases.

The creation and use of materials and devices at the molecular and atomic levels that can be used for the diagnosis and therapy of renal diseases is also a part of Nanonephrology that will play a role in the management of patients with kidney disease in the future.

Advances in Nanonephrology will be based on discoveries in the above areas that can provide nano-scale information on the cellular molecular machinery involved in normal kidney processes and in pathological states. By understanding the physical and chemical properties of proteins and other macromolecules at the atomic level in various cells in the kidney, novel therapeutic approaches can be designed to combat major renal diseases.

The nano-scale artificial kidney is a goal that many physicians dream of. Nano-scale engineering advances will permit programmable and controllable nano-scale robots to execute curative and reconstructive procedures in the human kidney at the cellular and molecular levels. Designing nanostructures compatible with the kidney cells and that can safely operate in vivo is also a future goal. The ability to direct events in a controlled fashion at the cellular nano-level has the potential of significantly improving the lives of patients with kidney diseases. For dialysis patients nanotechnological filters will be of immediate relief.[1]

Atomic Level[edit]

Nanotechnology can be coupled with Computed Tomography (CT) systems and be able to provide high resolution images smaller than 1 micrometer.[2] The nano-improved CT scan can be put into practical use by providing a vascular corrosion cast, a three-dimensional model of a blood vessels, that is highly specific with high resolution.[2] This type of imaging can detect all of the capillaries as well as the whole vascular system of the kidney.[2] It can also be used on a broader scale to check the larger blood vessels.[2] The whole kidney was able to be imaged and parts of the vascular system were deducted that included the capillaries as well as smaller vessels.[2] This left them with an image that resembled a tree which was only the larger vessels.[2]

           Nanoglubule-cystamine (Gd-DO3A) greatly enhances magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and also can be used as a diagnostic tool in urography.[3] The incorporation of nanoparticles into imaging will show better resolution images and also be able be good for evaluating the function of the kidneys.[3] This contrast agent is quickly eliminated from the blood circulation which is said to be the best quality to have during the functional evaluation.[3]

Diagnostic Testing[edit]

           An additional method for incorporating nanoparticles into imagine techniques for the kidneys would be to use them as biomarkers to detect thrombosis, a blood clot, which is detectable anywhere in the body.[4] This would be under the umbrella of nephrology because the biomarkers in that would be in the blood are filtered out via the kidneys and excreted in the urine.[4] So, after the patient is injected with the biomarkers they are tested for in the urine by doing a urine test.[4] The urine is tested by using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) which detect the antibodies specific to thrombosis carried by the biomarkers injected in the patient.[4]

Medical Treatments[edit]

           According to the International Center for Materials Nanoarchitechtonics (MANA) a new technique, using nanoparticles, could be used for blood filtration in the kidneys eliminating the need for kidney dialysis with this new method.[5] They say that this new nanofiber would be more effective than dialysis because it is not electric dependent and also cheaper which would make it more available than our current dialysis treatments.[5] The nanofiber mesh is made from particles that are blood compatible and also other natural occurring substances and it assembled via electrospinning.[5]


  1. ^ Nano World: Nano for artificial kidneys 2005 by United Press International
  2. ^ a b c d e f Wagner, R. "High-Resolution Imaging of Kidney Vascular Corrosion Casts with Nano-CT". Microscopy and Micoanalysis. 
  3. ^ a b c "Nanomedicine; Studies from University of Utah further understanding of nanotechnology". Science Letter. 9 November 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c d Lin, Kevin Y.; Kwong, Gabriel A.; Warren, Andrew D.; Wood, David K.; Bhatia, Sangeeta N. "Nanoparticles That Sense Thrombin Activity As Synthetic Urinary Biomarkers of Thrombosis". ACS Nano. 7 (10): 9001–9009. doi:10.1021/nn403550c. PMC 3807694Freely accessible. PMID 24015809. 
  5. ^ a b c Namekawa, Koki; Schreiber, Makoto Tokoro; Aoyagi, Takao; Ebara, Mitsuhiro. "Fabrication of zeolite–polymer composite nanofibers for removal of uremic toxins from kidney failure patients". doi:10.1039/C3BM60263J. Retrieved 2015-12-04.