Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

In 2017 we celebrated five years of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science

Trick and Treat
05 September 2014

Trick and Treat

Pain, the great leveller, had Shakespeare say, “There was never yet philosopher that could endure the toothache patiently”. Like toothache, kidney stones inflict one of the least bearable kinds of pain – to do with their beautiful sharp facets made of calcium oxalate crystal (pictured) that lacerate the urinary tract on their way out. Sufferers would swap gold for relief, but there is no ready remedy for dislodging stones from kidneys – where they form millimetre-sized slivers like limescale in kettles – short of surgery or ultrasound to crush them when they grow too big to pass in urine. Drinking too little water, obesity, high protein and sugar diets, and being male with a family history of kidney stones, increase your chances of getting them. But relief is on the horizon with drugs that normally treat leukaemia and epilepsy, which researchers found can also trick kidneys into dissolving the stones.

Written by Tristan Farrow

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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