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New technology could help doctors predict which patients will develop acute kidney injury

01 February 2024

Dr Sergei Krivov from the University of Leeds received a research project grant of £220,000, in partnership with the Stoneygate Trust, to deliver an artificial intelligence device that can accurately predict acute kidney injury (AKI). 

Why is acute kidney injury a problem?

AKI is a sudden, rapid loss of kidney function. In the UK alone, around 615,000 episodes are reported each year, leading to 100,000 deaths. It happens for many different reasons, including dehydration, conditions causing reduced blood flow to the kidneys, infection, and certain medication. It can lead to a build-up of waste products which affect other organs like the brain, heart, and lungs. While kidney health can recover if AKI is diagnosed and treated early, it often means long hospital stays and an increased risk of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD).  

It is crucial that AKI is diagnosed early, but this is not simple: no single test can diagnose AKI, and it can happen to any patient in any hospital department. The current NHS AKI alert system uses indicators like changes in blood test results to recognise AKI onset, but there is no way to accurately predict who will develop AKI before it happens. 

Dr Sergei Krivov
Dr Sergei Krivov

A solution to predict AKI

Sergei and team developed an artificial intelligence device called ‘AKI-Predict’. It uses an algorithm (calculation) based on the current NHS AKI alert system to rapidly and accurately predict patients’ risk of developing AKI. It sends an alert to medical staff, telling them who is most at risk of AKI, allowing them to treat these patients and prevent them from developing severe illness.  

The team will conduct tests to make sure AKI-Predict works in different patients and hospitals, and in real time. They will use this evidence to use AKI-Predict in hospitals across the UK.  

What this might mean for patients

AKI-Predict could prevent patients from developing severe forms of AKI, meaning shorter hospital stays, and fewer people developing CKD or needing dialysis or transplant. It could also help medical staff and scientists understand which factors increase or decrease AKI risk. 

“I am delighted to have been awarded this Kidney Research UK grant. AKI-Predict was specifically developed for patients at risk of developing AKI and has been designed to reduce the impact of severe illness caused by this condition. It has the potential to significantly improve the care of these patients, help us to better understand the causes of AKI, and identify effective treatments. This is a huge milestone for kidney research, and for the safe, effective use of artificial intelligence for patient benefit." Dr Sergei Krivov

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