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Hope for better kidney stone treatment

AAP logoAAP 9/08/2016 By Sarah Wiedersehn

Researchers in the US have found a possible new way to prevent kidney stones, a discovery that should have men rejoicing.

They say passing kidney stones is the male equivalent of child birth and in the past 30 years there have been very few advancements in treatments to prevent the very painful condition - that also affects women.

However a chemical engineer from the University of Houston says they've found evidence a natural fruit extract, known as hydroxycitrate (HCA), is capable of dissolving calcium oxalate crystals - the most common component of human kidney stones.

HCA is found in a variety of tropical plants including Garcinia cambogia and Hibiscus subdariffa.

Associate Professor Jeffrey Rimer says their research, published in the journal Nature, has found the compound shows "promise" as a potential therapy to prevent kidney stones.

"HCA may be preferred as a therapy over CA (potassium citrate)," Associate Professor Rimer said.

The team of researchers used atomic force microscopy to study interactions between the crystals and HCA under realistic growth conditions. This technique allowed them to record crystal growth in real time.

It was with this technology the researchers discovered HCA to be more potent and advantageous for new therapies over CA.

While the groundwork to design an effective drug using HCA has been done, questions remain about dosage and long-term safety, Ass Prof Rimer said.

"But our initial findings are very promising. If it works in vivo, similar to our trials in the laboratory, HCA has the potential to reduce the incidence rate of people with chronic kidney stone disease."

Kidney stones are one of the most common disorders of the urinary tract. About four to eight per cent of Australians suffer from them at some time.

The lifetime risk of developing kidney stones is one in 10 for Australian men and one in 35 for women.

In most cases of kidney stones there is no known reason why a stone is formed.

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