Painful kidney stones may soon be reduced and treated with a dietary supplement developed by three Wilkes professors. It is the focus of a collaborative research project involving Drs. Adam Van Wert, associate professor of pharmaceutical science, William Terzaghi, professor of biology, and Del Lucent, assistant professor of physics. Eighty percent of kidney stones are caused by excess calcium oxalate. Since oxalate comes from individuals’ diets, the Wilkes professors are redesigning the DNA of enzymes that destroy oxalate to produce a dietary supplement. They are also modifying probiotic E. coli to express the enzymes to destroy oxalate in the digestive system.
The students in their classes have been a key part of their joint research – earning the trio the University’s Interdisciplinary Teaching Award in 2016. Students in pharmacy, biology and biochemistry have been involved in the research, as well as graduate students in bioengineering.