Cystinuria is a rare congenital disease, affecting 1 in 7000 people. It is caused by the excess of cystine in the urine, which triggers the formation of stones or crystals in kidneys, ureters and bladder, as well as pain in the affected areas.
Among the current methods for diagnosis, the most common are the collection of stones for microscopic examination and the Brand test (cyanide-nitroprusside), which detects cystine excretion, but it is not specific enough as it can result in false positives due to the presence of other sulphur molecules or drugs, such as when patients are receiving a treatment of N-acetylcysteine, a usual mucolytic. More sophisticated methods are based on genetic tests which enable an early diagnosis but they are much more expensive.
The technology presented allows the early detection of cysteine and cystine present in urine by means of a cheap and reliable assay. The test is based on a dynamic system in which its components rearrange adequately in the presence of these amino acids, leading to a readable fluorescent entity.
This method may be applied to the early diagnosis of cystinuria and other diseases related to an abnormal cystine storage.
Preliminar studies with cystinuria patients samples show a good correlation between the patient condition and the cysteine/cystine measurements obtained.
The Spanish research center, with a broad experience in the development of this kind of dynamic networks, is searching for pharmaceutical or diagnostic companies that could be interested in the use of this assay to diagnose and monitor cystinuria patients, under a patent licence. Companies interested in this technology should carry out either by themselves or through research collaboration with our organization some further development of the test and the clinical validation to reach the market.