Theobromine is an inhibitor of uric acid crystallisation in urine discovered by the Laboratory of Renal Lithiasis Research at the University of Balearic Islands (UIB)
Dr. Fèlix Grases (UIB): «With this study clearly observe the effect of theobromine in controlling the formation of uric acid stones»
The digital health company Devicare will incorporate theobromine in Lit-Control®, an international first-in-class kit to prevent and self-control lithiasis and other chronic urinary diseases
The Laboratory of Renal Lithiasis Research at the University of the Balearic Islands (UIB) will carry out a study among patients to evaluate the effects of theobromine, a substance that acts as an inhibitor of uric acid crystallisation in urine and that was patented as a dietary supplement by the UIB research team led by Dr. Fèlix Grases. The study will be carried out in collaboration with the Urology Service of the Hospital de Manacor, led by Dr. Joan Benejam, and the digital health company Devicare, which is expected to incorporate theobromine in nutritional supplements of the Lit-Control® line sold in pharmacies.
The study will last twelve months and 60 patients between the ages of 18 and 75 will participate. It will be a double-blind study such that neither the participants nor the researchers will know which participants belong to the control group and which belong to the experimental group until the experiment is concluded. It is expected that the results of this study will make it possible to “clearly observe the effect of theobromine in controlling the formation of uric acid stones”, according to Dr. Fèlix Grases. It will also mark an important step towards “bringing an understanding of theobromine into the medical community.”
The Laboratory of Renal Lithiasis Research at the UIB is a world leader in research on the causes of renal lithiasis and pathological calcifications, and since 2013, it manages the first state registry of paediatric lithiasis. Created in 1987, the group was the first to explain the most common mechanisms of kidney stone formation.
Theobromine: food of the gods against renal lithiasis
Theobromine is a substance that is naturally found in cocoa beans and comes from the Greek words theo (god) and broma (food). The UIB research team led by Dr. Fèlix Grases discovered that this substance has an important inhibitory effect on uric acid crystallisation, which causes renal lithiasis. This illness is especially worrisome since it is highly recurrent, up to several times in one year, and it is related to other illnesses such as diabetes and obesity.
Treatments that are currently used to treat renal lithiasis are based on urinary alkalinisation with an increase in urinary pH in order to prevent uric acid crystallisation and the formation of new kidney stones. Nevertheless, there is the possibility that these treatments excessively increase urinary pH and thus cause a different type of renal lithiasis, i.e. phosphate lithiasis, which is more difficult to treat given the risk of kidney calcification involved.
Although consuming approximately 20 grams of dark chocolate per day can provide the necessary amount of theobromine to prevent renal lithiasis, researchers warn that people who suffer from diabetes and obesity should not consume chocolate due to the potential harmful effects of the other components of chocolate, such as carbohydrates and oxalates. In the latter case, excessive intake of oxalates could lead to the formation of calcium oxalate kidney stones and the development of other types of lithiasis.
With the aim of providing people affected by renal lithiasis with access to the clinical benefits related to theobromine, UIB researchers patented a new dietary supplement in the form of capsules that contain this substance. In 2014, UIB signed a license agreement so that the company Devicare, which specialises in innovative medical solutions for the home-based care of chronically ill patients and which is located in the UAB Research Park (Cerdanyola del Vallès, Barcelona), could use the patent. Moreover, if the results of the clinical study are positive, Devicare will incorporate theobromine into its Lit-Control® pH Up nutritional supplement, which is sold in pharmacies, in order to boost its effectiveness.
The Laboratory of Renal Lithiasis Research at UIB and Devicare collaborated to develop a home-base system to self-monitor common urological illnesses called Lit-Control®, which is made up of the Lit-Control® pH Meter device and the Lit-Control® pH Up and Lit-Control® pH Down nutritional supplements.
Devicare: commitment to Remote Patient Monitoring
Devicare is a company specialized in the development and remote management of innovative medical devices for the home care of chronic patients. These solutions are developed under the concept of Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) in order to enable the patient to actively participate in the monitoring of their disease with the use of the devices.
In 2016, according to data by the Berg Insight, the global RPM market grew by 44% and it is estimated that the number of patients monitored will reach 50.2 million in the next 4 years, of which 25.2 million will be connected to home medical devices such as the ones made by Devicare.
“We are convinced that this is the way to improve healthcare management and the quality of life for patients who suffer from chronic diseases”, explains Xavier Peris, sales and marketing director at Devicare.