At present, the hormone EPO is administered to a large number of these patients to alleviate the anemia. But unfortunately, treatment with EPO is not always effective, and not all patients respond to this therapy. VIB scientists connected to the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven have been researching the role of the Gas6 protein. This substance has proven successful in the treatment of mice with anemia, without causing the side effects that the use of EPO entails. In addition, Gas6 contributes to a reinforcement of EPO’s effect. Gas6 might possibly form the basis for a new treatment for anemia and offer a remedy for patients where EPO is ineffective.
What is anemia?
When the blood contains too few red blood cells, or when the red blood cells contain too little hemoglobin, the condition is called anemia. Hemoglobin binds to oxygen from the lungs and conveys it throughout our bodies, where it plays an essential role in the body’s production of energy. If there are not enough red blood cells in our body, or if the red blood cells do not contain enough hemoglobin, then insufficient oxygen is transported. A shortage of oxygen in our tissues can cause people to feel tired and weak, and serious cardiovascular, neurological and musculoskeletal abnormalities develop.
EPO as the remedy
EPO (or Erythropoietin) is a hormone that is produced predominantly in the kidneys and that stimulates the formation of red blood cells. However, sometimes the kidneys do not produce enough EPO and anemia results. Such a shortage of EPO often occurs in patients with a chronic disorder (like kidney failure or rheumatoid arthritis) and in cancer patients. In the case of cancer, anemia can be caused by the disease itself as well as by chemotherapy.
When patients with chronic kidney ailments or cancer develop anemia, the human EPO protein is produced in mammalian cells and administered as a drug. The EPO then stimulates the formation of red blood cells, thus alleviating the anemia. But, in a large number of patients, the use of EPO as a remedy fails; in some patients, even high dosages of EPO are not effective.
Gas6 as alternative - and safer - remedy?
VIB researcher Diether Lambrechts and his colleagues have been studying - under the direction of Ed Conway and Peter Carmeliet, and in collaboration with foreign experts - the role of the Gas6 protein in mice. While EPO plays a prominent role in the production of red blood cells throughout our life, Gas6 is only involved in the production of red blood cells in adulthood.
When mice with anemia are treated with Gas6, the red blood cells once again rise to their normal levels in the blood. In contrast to EPO, the use of Gas6 does not result in an excessive production of red blood cells, which increases the risk of thrombosis. Furthermore, Gas6 reinforces the effect of EPO: indeed, when Gas6 is administered to mice that have not produced enough EPO, it works just as well as EPO, and a combined treatment of Gas6 and EPO produces an even greater therapeutic effect.
So, the positive evaluation of Gas6 in anemic mice raises hopes for a more effective and safer remedy for chronic disease patients who have to contend with anemia as a consequence of their disease or therapy.
Ann Van Gysel | alfa
NIH scientists describe potential antibody treatment for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae
14.03.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Researchers identify key step in viral replication
13.03.2018 | University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.
Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...
Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.
They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...
A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...
For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.
In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...
Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...
19.03.2018 | Event News
16.03.2018 | Event News
13.03.2018 | Event News
21.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
21.03.2018 | Materials Sciences
21.03.2018 | Life Sciences