In a significant discovery, Canadian researchers have determined the chemical composition of human urine and identified more than 3,000 metabolites in the “incredibly complex” bio-fluid.
The discovery of the complete chemistry of human urine could be a real game-changer in medical, drug and environmental testing as it can help the doctors in curing many related problems, researchers say.
A team of nearly 20 scientists at the University of Alberta have made the significant discovery after seven years of rigourous study.
“Urine is an incredibly complex biofluid,” David Wishart, senior scientist on the project, said while adding, “We had no idea there could be so many different compounds going into our toilets.”
The study involved analytical chemistry techniques including nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, gas chromatography, mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography to systematically identify and quantify hundreds of compounds in human urine samples. The researchers also used computer-based data mining techniques to scour more than 100 years of published scientific literature about human urine.
Understanding the chemical composition of urine is of particular interest to physicians, nutritionists and environmental scientists as urine can reveal key information not only about a person’s health, but also about the diseases, their food or drinking habits.
Millions of chemically based urine tests which are performed every day to identify newborn metabolic disorders, to diagnose diabetes and for monitoring kidney function confirms bladder infections and detects illicit drug use, researchers said.
“Expanding the list of known chemicals in urine by a factor of 30 and improving the technology so that we can detect hundreds of urine chemicals at a time could be a real game-changer for medical testing,” Wishart said.