A new combination drug has been found more effective and less painful for passing kidney stones, a disease afflicting one in every ten people at some time of their lives.
Researchers at MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital have now devised the potential treatment that could make passing kidney stones faster and less painful. They have identified a combination of two drugs that relax the walls of the ureter — the tube that connects the kidneys to the bladder — and can be delivered directly to the ureter with a catheter-like instrument. Relaxing the ureter could help stones move through the tube more easily, the researchers say.
“We think this could significantly impact kidney stone disease, which affects millions of people,” says Michael Cima, the David H. Koch Professor of Engineering in MIT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, and the senior author of the study.
This kind of treatment could also make it easier and less painful to insert stents into the ureter, which is sometimes done after a kidney stone is passed, to prevent the tube from becoming blocked or collapsing.
Christopher Lee, a recent Ph.D. recipient in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, is the lead author of the study, which appears today (December 2, 2019) in Nature Biomedical Engineering.
While some larger stones require surgery, the usual treatment plan is simply to wait for the stones to pass, which takes an average of 10 days as per the current treatment regime.
The researchers tested various doses of this combination of drugs in ureters removed from pigs, and showed that they could dramatically reduce the frequency and length of contractions of the ureter. Tests in live pigs also showed that the treatment nearly eliminated ureteral contractions.