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Dynamic system for rapid cystinuria diagnosis

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Partner keyword: 
Diagnostics, Diagnosis
In vitro Testing, Trials
In-vitro diagnostics
Research and experimental development on biotechnology


A Spanish public research institution has developed a technology for the precise and early diagnosis of cystinuria disease, through urine testing. It is based on molecular networks that produce a fluorescent measurable signal when some substances are linked to cysteine or cystine. Companies interested in patent licensing and/or in a research collaboration for the development of its applications are sought.



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.

Advantages & innovations

Cooperation plus value: 
The main features of this test are: • The sensor allows detecting cysteine in its reduced (Cys) or oxidized (cystine) forms without extra preparation steps. • High selectivity against other biothiols such as homocistine, glutathione or N-acetylcysteine present in urine, overcoming false positives. • Sensitivity. No interference with other typical amino acids present in urine samples. • Detection range: 50 µM - 1 mM. Stone-producing cystinuria starts from 0.8 mM Cys in urine. • Inexpensive, rapid (ca. 1 hour) and feasible test based on fluorescence reading.

Stage of development

Cooperation stage dev stage: 
Under development/lab tested

Partner sought

Cooperation area: 
Pharma, diagnostic or biotech companies interested in diagnostics are being sought to develop and commercialize this diagnostic method through a patent licence agreement. - Licensing agreement: The partner would license the technology to obtain the regulatory certifications and commercialise and bring it to market. - Research cooperation agreement: The partner and the institution could undertake a joint effort to further develop this technology, optimising the test format and doing clinical validation addressing specific needs of the market.

Type and size

Cooperation task: 
R&D Institution