In 1799, the famous German geologist Alexander von Humboldt wrote: "Science can only be advanced by combining all the phenomena on the earth
Rather than discovering new isolated facts, I prefer to connect known facts.
Over the years, researchers have tried to combine geology, biology, medicine and cutting-edge microscope technology to explore the secrets of kidney stone formation
Kidney stones are deposits in the urinary system that affect more than 12% of people worldwide.
The symptoms range from mild discomfort to severe pain.
Complications can lead to death
Although painful, the beauty of this stone is beyond many people's imagination
When scientists observed the cross-section of kidney stones, they found that some of them were very beautiful, some resembled crystal holes, and some resembled tree rings
Moreover, they have a structure similar to coral reefs or limestone, with a layered structure rich in organic matter and minerals, but the scale is much smaller than that of rocks
Professor Bruce Fouke is a geologist at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
He is leading the team to apply the experience and methods of studying earth deposition to the study of kidney stones
Recently, this research team collaborated with researchers from Mayo Clinic to publish a paper in Nature Reviews Urology under the umbrella of Nature, detailing the various stages of the kidney stone deposition process.
And recorded by high-resolution imaging technology
Based on the formation stage of the stone and what chemical process it is undergoing, a new classification scheme was established and possible clinical interventions were proposed
Kidney stones are formed in the same way as geological stones in nature
Previously, doctors thought that kidney stones were formed all at once.
However, the analysis results obtained by Professor Fouke from geology are on the contrary.
Kidney stones are not completely crystallized and deposited at one time, but undergo a process of partial dissolution and reconstruction for many times
The basic processes that control the deposition of phosphates, carbonates, and silicates in other natural and engineering environments on the earth are actually the same as the processes that control the formation of human kidney stones.
These processes are called universal biomineralization.
And diagenetic phase transitions
"When we identify these crystal phase transformations, what makes it from one step to the next and how it progresses, then maybe we can break the chain of chemical reactions that occur within the kidney tissue, thereby Intervene in this progress before the stone
becomes problematic," said Dr.
Mayandi Sivaguru, the first author of the study
A particularly illuminating discovery was in the initial stage of kidney stone formation: at the beginning, the stones were just small round mineral microspheres (microspherules), similar to the small spheres formed by agate in natural volcanic rock sediments
These mineral microspheres then fuse in the kidney tissue and form larger, perfect geometric crystals
Under normal circumstances, these tiny mineral deposits are excreted from the body, but when they grow too fast and continue to form larger stones, they cannot leave the kidneys, causing human pain and even fatal in some cases
Researchers have found that at least 50% of the volume of stones has naturally undergone multiple cycles of partial dissolution and recrystallization, forming an iconic layered crystal pattern, which is very similar to agate, coral skeleton and hot spring sediments.
"Looking at the cross-section of a kidney stone, you would never guess that each layer was originally formed by a bunch of small balls arranged and fused
This is a revolutionary new way for us to understand how these minerals grow in the kidneys.
Preventing the growth of stones provides a specific drug target
" said Professor Bruce Fouke, the corresponding author of the paper
After understanding the process of kidney stone formation, the study authors outlined several possible clinical interventions and treatment goals, from drug targets to changes in diet or supplements, which may disrupt the chemical and biological cascades that drive kidney stone formation
They hope that biological researchers and clinicians will be able to explore and test these options
In order to test, the research team also developed a microfluidic detection box called "GeoBioCell" designed to simulate the intricate internal structure of the kidney
The team hopes that the device will not only accelerate research, but also accelerate the evaluation of clinical diagnostic tests and potential therapies, especially for more than 70% of patients with recurrence of kidney stones
Note: The original text has been deleted
 Sivaguru, M.
, et, al.
Human kidney stones: a natural record of universal biomineralization.
Nature Reviews Urology.
 Geology helps map kidney stone formation from tiny to troublesome.
Retrieved May 25, 2021, from https://news.
 Kidney Stones Are More Beautiful Than You Might Think.
Retrieved September 18, 2020, from https:// (academic latitude and longitude )