A team of Johns Hopkins undergraduates are working to improve the lives of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who live with kidney failure, and their efforts aren’t going unnoticed.
In fact, they’ve been on a bit of a winning streak, collecting substantial cash prizes from business plan competitions, grant programs, and startup incubators. In fewer than six months, they’ve raised more than $25,000, and they say they’re still gaining momentum.
Biomedical engineering students Anna Bailey, Tejasvi Desai, Giang Hoang, Sarah Lee, Eugene Oh, and James Qin founded Relavo, a company working to develop a device that reduces the risk for contamination during at-home kidney dialysis treatments. These treatments, called peritoneal dialysis, require inserting a catheter into the lining of the abdomen to deliver a cleaning solution that cleans the blood within the body itself. The treatment has been found to give kidney failure patients a better quality of life than hemodialysis, where the blood is cleaned outside the body.
But the team behind Relavo says that because patients administer peritoneal dialysis to themselves, there is a higher risk of contamination during treatment setup. The resulting infection, called peritonitis, occurs in 1 in 4 patients, requires hospitalization 60 percent of the time, and is a primary factor in 1 in 6 peritoneal dialysis patient deaths.
In response, the Relavo team developed PeritoneX, an affordable, disposable device that disinfects contamination points before dialysis treatment begins.
“It seemed like a relatively simple solution, but no one had tackled it before,” said Lee, who leads the team.