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HP's inkjet tech to be used for in-home dialysis treatment

The printing technology will be used to provide safe, less-expensive home system for patients.

Inkjet technology isn't just for printers.

Hewlett-Packard has agreed to license its patent on inkjet for use in a treatment system for people suffering kidney failure, according to HP's director of IP licensing, Charlie Chapman.

Sure, the two might sound completely unrelated, but HP's done something similar before: last year, another medical services company licensed inkjet intellectual property to administer vaccines.

HP logo

But this time, HP will allow Home Dialysis Plus, a new company still gathering funding, to use HP's "fluid management" technology used in inkjet printers.

HP uses it to create calculated mixtures of ink and water, which are then delivered through a printer to a piece of paper. Home Dialysis Plus will use it to mix tap water and concentrated dialysis solution at a level customized for patients that can be administered at home rather than at a treatment center.

Patients who must get clinical dialysis three times a week basically have to plan their lives around getting ready for the next treatment, according to HD Plus CEO Michael Baker. A home treatment is more ideal, but getting the correct mixture of water and dialysis fluids is hard and can be prone to human error.

Baker says the HP printing technology solves that. "It allows us to create a mixture on the fly as treatment is occurring," he said. The HD Plus system also uses the loading system one might find in a printer. Concentrated dialysis solution is contained in modules, like ink cartridges, that snap into the treatment system the way cartridges snap into a printer.

HD Plus says the product using HP's technology is 18 months to two years from completion, at which time it will still have to pass FDA trials.