Explore Magazine Volume 2 Issue 1


Test Identifies Bacteria That Fights Kidney Stones

A new laboratory test developed by a visiting University of Florida scientist accurately detects an intestinal bacteria believed to help prevent the most common type of kidney stone and may save the country millions of dollars in treatment costs.

UF researchers now are applying the test in clinical studies to confirm a strongly suspected link between the absence of the intestinal bacteria Oxalobacter and so-called calcium oxalate kidney stones. The test was developed by visiting UF biochemist Harmeet Sidhu of Chandigarth, India.

Dr. Ammon Peck, an immunologist with UF's College of Medicine whose genetic discoveries paved the way for developing the diagnostic test, is optimistic that if this link is verified, then calcium oxalate kidney stones may be prevented by replenishing a patient's supply of the ``good bacteria.''

Implications of the Florida study are far-reaching, since 5 percent to 10 percent of the general population is affected by calcium oxalate kidney stones, and close to 1 million Americans suffer from kidney stones every year.

More than $1 billion is spent in this country every year treating kidney stones, which may involve surgery or the use of repetitive high-energy shock waves aimed at the stones until they disintegrate.

In current UF studies, Peck and colleagues are incorporating a gene-probing test in large-scale, controlled clinical studies to further define the link between the absence of Oxalobacter and kidney stone development. The test will precisely identify the strains of bacteria known to block kidney stone formation.

Arline Dishong

photo by Russ Lante

Visiting scientist Dr. Harmeet Sidhu of India, foreground, works with immunology Professor Ammon Peck in analyzing a diagnostic test for an intestinal bacteria that helps protect against kidney stone development.