The University of Florida is seeking companies interested in commercializing a diagnostic kit that identifies the presence of Oxalobacter formigenes and related bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. These bacterial strains are particularly helpful for reducing the risk for kidney stone development because they break down oxalate. Oxalate, an organic salt, contributes significantly to stone formation. It is found in many fruits and vegetables, as well as processed foods such as peanut butter and chocolate. When oxalates are consumed, Oxalobacter formigenes and other beneficial bacteria break them down before calcium oxalate crystals can develop. While the kidneys are capable of filtering some calcium oxalate crystals, in large quantities they lead to painful stones. According to experts at the National Institutes of Health, kidney stone prevalence in the U.S. has been increasing over the past 30 years and affects more than five percent of Americans. Research demonstrates that Oxalobacter formigenes colonization can reduce the risk of recurrent kidney stones by 70 percent. Unfortunately, because antibiotics do not differentiate between “good” and “bad” bacteria, many adults' digestive systems lack Oxalobacter formigenes and other useful microbes. University of Florida researchers have created a test kit that reveals if and when certain bacteria might be reintroduced into the digestive tract.
A diagnostic kit that detects intestinal bacteria such as Oxalobacter formigenes, microbes that reduces/slows kidney stone development
- Identifies when certain “good” bacteria require re-colonization with probiotic supplements, reducing kidney stone prevalence
- Allows for targeted bacterial reintroduction, normalizing patients' digestive systems and improving their quality of life
- Aims to reestablish natural body function, leading to a correction at the problem’s source rather than mere symptom management
This inexpensive test kit uses nucleic acids and a fluorescent color tag to identify Oxalobacter bacteria, beneficial microbes present in normal digestive systems. During the past 30 years, scientists have employed nucleic acid-based tests (NATs) to detect specific bacteria in biological samples. These tests have distinct advantages over older microbiologic methods, including greater sensitivity and faster results. More recently, fluorescently labeled peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) have been used successfully as hybridization probes in fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) assays. University of Florida researchers have drawn on these technological breakthroughs to create a test kit that detects Oxalobacter formigenes and related species in biological samples directly, eliminating the need to grow specimens on agar plates.