Relavo, a company founded by Johns Hopkins undergraduates studying biomedical engineering, has been awarded a $500,000 KidneyX prize to develop a product that reduces the risk for contamination during at-home kidney dialysis treatments. The prize will primarily fund the team’s product development efforts and will pay salaries, allowing the company co-founders to work on the project full-time.
“This is huge for us, as our timeline has been set back due to the pandemic,” said Sarah Lee, now a mechanical engineering graduate student who leads the team. “This sense of security, particularly in the COVID-era, is significant and allows us to put more energy and focus into building the company.”
The pandemic has also sparked in Lee and her team a new sense of urgency to expand access to at-home dialysis, ensuring that vulnerable patients won’t have to visit in-person dialysis clinics for treatment.
“Kidney failure patients are high-risk for complications from COVID-19—yet nearly half a million people in the U.S. still have to travel to dialysis clinics several times a week just to survive,” said Lee. “And with the risks for long-term kidney complications due to COVID-19, even in patients with no history of kidney disease, there is definitely a community-wide focus in supporting these patients now and in the future.”