Due to insights from an unlikely source: geology, medical researchers are ready to map the entire process of kidney stone formation for the first time. Combining this framework with a set of cutting-edge microscopy tools and a new device for culturing kidney stones in the laboratory, they are developing new methods to stop or slow the growth of stones.
Stone disease occurs when jagged mineral crystals are formed in the urine in the kidney. This unbearable problem affects about one in ten adults and is steadily increasing, especially among women and adolescents. “This is common, fragile and expensive for the healthcare system and individuals. Most importantly, it is also recurrent-if you have had it once, then there is about a 50% chance that it will be soon There will be one time,” said Margaret Pearle, a urologist, who treated calculi at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, but did not participate in new research.
About ten years ago, geobiologist Bruce Fouke changed his microscope lens from a coral reef to a kidney stone. He collaborated with biologists and doctors at the Mayo Clinic and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and found that the formation of kidney stones is similar to many other stones in nature: they partially dissolve and re-form many times instead of crystallizing all at once. . “At that time we realized that stones are very dynamic and have a dissolving phase, so maybe there is a way to treat the stones using the dissolving phase,” said Amy Krambeck, a collaborator with Northwestern Medical urologist Falk.
Krambeck said there are few good animal or laboratory models to study kidney stone formation. Therefore, the team developed a new device called GeoBioCell, which is a cartridge designed to simulate the complex internal structure of the kidney. It allows scientists to measure and correlate how various factors—including kidney cell activity, and urine microbiome, chemicals, and flow—affect the growth of stones. Changing any one factor will cause the stones to develop and dissolve in different ways.
In their recent research, they concluded exist Nature Reviews UrologyResearchers mainly use GeoBioCell to study growing calcium oxalate crystals, which account for about 70% of kidney stones. Before Fouke’s initial work, it was thought that these crystals were almost impossible to dissolve-but he and his colleagues discovered that the stones did partially dissolve in the body before re-growth. Scientists are now using GeoBioCell to precisely examine how stones are formed, and they hope to find a way to initiate or extend the dissolution phase of the drug. They are also using this new device to test various proteins (including osteopontin, which is associated with bone), which may inhibit growth if administered as a drug. In addition, they are studying the effects that specific microorganisms and microbial communities may have on the formation of stones.
Pearle said this research has great potential in identifying renal processes that can be targeted by drugs or other interventions, and may improve doctors’ ability to predict and treat stone recurrence.