How it works - Kidney stones

Kidney stones are crystalline depots in the kidneys that are closely associated with surrounding tissue and typically do not produce symptoms. However, upon detachment, stones en route from the kidney into the urinary tract cause the classical colic pain. Small stones (<5 mm) pass spontaneously in most cases, whereas larger stones may get stuck in the ureter, which can lead to urinary obstruction, bacterial infection or even rupture of the urinary tract, necessitating urological intervention.

Kidney stones are a global healthcare problem, with a current lifetime risk of almost 20% in men and 10% in women in Western civilisations. Without treatment, recurrence rates are high (ca. 40% in 5 years). In recent decades, the incidence of kidney stone disease has increased globally, irrespective of age, sex and race. Hospitalisations, surgery and lost work time associated with having kidney stones produce enormous healthcare-related expenditures.

Kidney stone formation is a complex and still incompletely understood process that depends on dietary, environmental and genetic factors. The SNSF supports two of the largest kidney stone research initiatives worldwide. One is the Swiss Kidney Stone Cohort, an initiative of the NCCR Kidney.CH that aims at better understanding the molecular mechanisms and clinical conditions associated with stone formation. The other is the NOSTONE Trial, a multicentric, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to assess the efficacy of pharmacologic prophylaxis in the prevention of kidney stones.

Daniel Fuster
NCCR TransCure PI