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Winner: David Liu, Student Researcher, Western University, Ontario, Canada

Co-Culture Champion

Exploring Struvite Kidney Stone Formation and the Role of Arginine Deiminase

David is investigating the formation of struvite kidney stones and the role of a new enzyme, arginine deiminase. He will use Cerillo’s Co-Culture system to quantify crystallization, offering a new perspective on the factors contributing to these stones.

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How he will use Cerillo's Co-Culture Research Platform

Struvite kidney stones are traditionally caused by urinary tract infection. My project identifies a new enzyme that can cause struvite stones: arginine deiminase. For decades, urease was the only enzyme linked to struvite stones, which makes our finding novel and exciting.

The model in our lab uses growth curves to quantify crystallization. Without a co-culture plate, I cannot add live bacteria to urine to quantify crystallization, because bacterial growth will interfere with crystal growth readings. The co-culture plate allows me to grow live bacteria in 1 well, with sterile urine in another well, allowing only proteins (such as arginine deiminase) but not bacteria to cross between wells, thereby allowing quantification by growth curves.

In my field of research, we often culture multiple types of bacteria from the urine of patients with struvite stones. Interestingly, we often find E. coli in these patients, though E. coli is not traditionally associated with struvite kidney stones. Our lab is interested in investigating whether primary infection by E. coli can help other pathogen bacteria – particularly, those associated with struvite kidney stones – establish infection. This would greatly further our understanding of the microbiology of struvite kidney stones.