New hope for kidney patients around the world with investment into Australian dialysis device manufacture

Sydney-based start-up Ellen Medical Devices will receive $427,500 in government funding that will be matched by the company, making a total investment of $1.04 million to develop its award-winning Ellen Medical Dialysis System.

The investment is part of the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre’s (AMGC) $30 million Commercialisation Fund supporting innovative Australian businesses to grow their manufacturing capabilities and commercialise world-leading products.

Ellen Medical Managing Director and kidney specialist Professor John Knight said that global epidemics of high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes, were leading to rapidly rising rates of kidney disease.

“The number of people needing treatment for kidney failure is predicted to double to over five million by 2030. This is not only a preventable human tragedy but a significant market opportunity,” he said.

Dialysis - which replaces an essential function of the kidneys by purifying the blood - has been a safe and effective treatment for kidney failure for over 70 years, but it is very expensive. The cost in Australia is around $85,000 per patient per year.

In high-income countries, the cost is largely paid by public and/or private health insurance systems, but in most parts of the world, families must pay this themselves. Three out of every four people who need dialysis treatment in the world today will die because they cannot afford it.

Managing Director for AMGC, Dr Jens Goennemann said that Ellen Medical is leading the way in providing critical medical care to the world’s most needy.

“Australia enjoys one of the world’s most accessible health systems and our high levels of general health reflect this. Ellen Medical’s dialysis device will bring affordable health care to the world’s most needy. This breakthrough could only be achieved by bringing together the best in Australian medical research, engineering and manufacturing prowess to deliver a product with real, global impact,” he said.

Costing a fraction of traditional dialysis machines to build and just a few dollars a day to run, the Ellen Medical Dialysis System is a breakthrough in low-cost technology, which can not only treat chronic kidney failure patients for many years but also provide life-saving acute dialysis in an intensive care setting. Its efficient manufacturing and transport costs radically reduce the greenhouse gas burden of dialysis treatment.

“The Ellen Medical Dialysis System will open opportunities for millions of patients to access treatment for the first time, particularly in developing countries and remote areas,” said Professor Knight.

“This funding will mean we can now accelerate validation and commercialisation of the System through our existing manufacturing partners and global value chain partners.”

Final bench testing and pilot manufacture of the system are now underway in NSW, with clinical trials next planned for Sydney, India, Thailand, and Hong Kong over the next two years.  Due to launch in 2024, it is expected that at least 10,000 patients globally will benefit from Ellen Medical Dialysis devices by 2026.