The research of Hatim A. Hassan, M.D., Ph.D., focuses on the diagnosis and management of oxalate homeostasis and its relevance to kidney stones and other disorders.
Dr. Hassan researches the gastrointestinal mechanisms of oxalate transport. The latter is a key pathway that contributes to kidney stone disease. It also represents an important extra renal avenue for getting rid of body oxalate that can be therapeutically targeted.
Dr. Hassan laid the groundbreaking work leading to the identification of novel probiotic gut bacterium derived proteins called Oxalobacter formigenes. These proteins have significant therapeutic potential for hyperoxalemia, hyperoxaluria and related disorders including kidney stones.
- Evaluate the potential of the Oxalobacter formigenes-derived proteins and small peptides as novel therapeutic agents for hyperoxalemia, hyperoxaluria and related disorders. In 2018, Dr. Hassan started a new company based on his research. The company, Oxalo Therapeutics, aims to achieve further preclinical milestones toward ultimately developing a peptide-based therapeutic for hyperoxalemia, hyperoxaluria and related disorders.
- Elucidate the pathogenesis of obesity and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)-associated hyperoxaluria. This includes the role of gut microbiome in these disorders. Dr. Hassan's laboratory has developed mouse models for obesity and IBD-associated hyperoxaluria.
- Define the molecular mechanisms regulating intestinal oxalate transport. This transport is affected by different neurohormonal factors. The relevance of this regulation is important to hyperoxaluria, hyperoxalemia and related disorders including kidney stones.
Significance to patient care
Kidney stones are common, excruciating and associated with tremendous health care cost, chronic kidney disease and kidney failure. Recurrence rates remain high and can be up to 80% in 10 to 20 years. Most kidney stones are composed of calcium oxalate. Small increases in urinary oxalate concentration significantly enhance the stone risk.
Oxalate also potentially contributes to chronic kidney disease, cyst growth in autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease, kidney disease-associated cardiovascular diseases and poor renal allograft survival. This emphasizes the urgent need for therapies to lower plasma and urinary oxalate, which can be achieved by enhancing enteric oxalate secretion. There are no approved drugs that effectively reduce plasma or urinary oxalate levels unless it is caused by type 1 primary hyperoxaluria. Lumasiran (Oxlumo) has been approved for type 1 primary hyperoxaluria.
The ultimate goal of Dr. Hassan's research is to discover specific novel pathways, targets or molecules with significant therapeutic potential. Importantly, the Oxalobacter formigenes-derived proteins and small peptides have significant therapeutic potential for hyperoxalemia, hyperoxaluria and related disorders.
- Member, review panel for kidney stones, National Institutes of Health, 2014-present.
- Member, Scientific Advisory Council, Oxalosis and Hyperoxaluria Foundation, 2013-present.
- Researchers to Know, Illinois Science & Technology Coalition, 2019.