My clinical and research efforts continue to be centered around the treatment and understanding the pathogenesis of urinary stone disease. I have recently identified zinc as a critical factor in the early mineralization process. We utilized the synchrotron at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories to identify non-trace amounts of zinc in Randall plaques (early human urinary stones) and in our recent Drosophila fly model. By knocking out specific zinc transporters in our first fruit fly model we were able to demonstrate that stone development dramatically decreases. I have collaborated with researchers at the Buck Institute on Aging, the Advance Light Source at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Oakland Children’s Hospital, UC Davis, and Julian Dow in Glasgow to help mature this intriguing invertebrate fly animal model. I recently received grant funding for an R-21 and a P-20 from NIH to further these studies. Presently, I have three post docs helping with this project. We recently developed an additional fruit fly model that will develop cystine and calcium based stones. We also are investigating the role of uric acid metabolism in stone development. Techniques to stain and visualize these concretions continues to be in progress.
In collaboration with Bob Grubbs at Caltech we are developing a new minimally invasive technique to potentially replace routine endourologic techniques to treat urinary stones. Injection of our specialized tagged bubbles will attach to the offending stone/s and with appropriate energy sources will cavitate and fracture the stones. Proof of concept with high speed photography was performed with collaborators at the University of Washington. Patents have been issued (US2013/0123781) and we are in active discussions with various companies to develop a commercial application.