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Flies reveal kidney stones in-the-making
Date:4/6/2013

Washington, D.C. April 6, 2013 Kidney stones usually make their presence known suddenly, often sending a person to the hospital in excruciating pain. Each year in the U.S. more than a million people seek medical attention for kidney stones, technically called nephrolithiasis. The total annual cost of treatment exceeds $2.1 billion, according to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse.

Although kidney stone pain may seem to come out of nowhere, the hard collections of minerals that block kidney tubules and ureters originate and grow over weeks or months. Learning more about how they form can suggest ways to detect them at earlier stages, prevent recurrence following lithotripsy (shock waves that break up the stone) or surgery, and possibly prevent them altogether if susceptible individuals can be identified.

Experiments using the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster not only provide a glimpse of kidney stone formation over a fly's short lifetime, but have identified an important role zinc plays in the disease process in flies and in people. Thomas Chi, MD, Clinical Instructor and Endourology and Laparoscopy Fellow in the Department of Urology at the University of California, San Francisco, will discuss these experiments today at the Genetics Society of America's 54th Annual Drosophila Research Conference in Washington D.C., April 3-7, 2013.

"There's been little to no change in medical treatment for urinary stones in the last 20 years. While surgical (which includes lithotripsy) treatments have advanced at a rapid pace, our ability to prevent kidney stones or their recurrence is extremely limited," said Dr. Chi.

In flies genetically predisposed to develop stones, researchers can track the origins of the condition, and can also screen drugs, medical therapies, and other genes that counter stone formation. The insects develop pebble-like masses of phosphorus and calcium that look like ti
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Contact: Phyllis Edelman
pedelman@genetics-gsa.org
301-351-0896
Genetics Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

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