Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Protein discovered that keeps hemoglobin in balance

13.06.2002


Research at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia may advance treatment of the blood disease thalassemia



Hematology researchers at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have discovered a gene and its associated protein that may have major implications for red blood cell formation, specifically for hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in red blood cells. Understanding how this protein functions may eventually lead to novel treatments for the hemoglobin-related blood disease, thalassemia.

Thalassemia is a group of related inherited disorders that together are the most common single-gene disease known. The most severe form of the disease, beta thalassemia major, affects 300,000 patients worldwide.


Thalassemia results from an imbalance between two proteins in hemoglobin, called alpha and beta globin. An excess of either type of protein is toxic, causing thalassemia symptoms including poor growth, fatigue, bone damage, or skin ulcers. The newly found protein, alpha hemoglobin stabilizing protein (AHSP), binds to free alpha globin and prevents it from forming a precipitate that damages red blood cells.

“AHSP acts as a chaperone molecule – a chemical that helps another protein to fold or unfold,” said Mitchell Weiss, M.D., Ph.D., a pediatric hematologist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and senior author of the paper, published in the June 13 issue of Nature. “Here it makes free alpha globin stable and prevents its deleterious effects.”

Dr. Weiss’ team suspected that AHSP, by preventing free alpha hemoglobin from precipitating within red blood cells, protects the cells from injury. To test that hypothesis, the researchers developed knockout mice, animals genetically engineered to lack the gene that produces AHSP. Those mice showed blood abnormalities similar to those found in mice with thalassemia.

AHSP’s protective role could explain how some patients who carry the genetic trait for beta thalassemia have mild disease and few symptoms even though their bodies produce more alpha than beta globin. By binding to free alpha globin, AHSP may protect the body from a dangerous accumulation of that protein. However, if AHSP does not function properly, the excess alpha globin precipitation may change milder or intermediate thalassemia into more severe disease.

This current research suggests that if physicians can deliver AHSP or a similar agent to patients with thalassemia, they may produce a new treatment for the disease. Severe cases are now treated with frequent blood transfusions that carry their own serious complications, such as excess iron. “If we can reduce the buildup of free alpha globin we may be able to lower the dose of transfusion needed, and improve patients’ quality of life,” added Dr. Weiss.


In addition to Dr. Weiss, co-authors of the article are Anthony J. Kihm, Ph.D., Yi Kong, Wei Hong, Ph.D., J. Eric Russell, M.D., Susan Rouda, Kazuhiko Adachi, Ph.D., and Gerd A. Blobel, M.D., Ph. D., all of Children’s Hospital’s Division of Hematology, and M. Celeste Simon, Ph.D., of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the University of Pennsylvania. The research was funded by the Cooley’s Anemia Foundation, the Unico Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Founded in 1855 as the nation’s first pediatric hospital, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is ranked today as the best pediatric hospital in the nation by a comprehensive Child magazine survey. Its pediatric research program is among the largest in the country, ranking second in National Institutes of Health funding.

John Ascenzi | EurekAlert

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht A promising target for kidney fibrosis
21.04.2017 | Brigham and Women's Hospital

nachricht Stem cell transplants: activating signal paths may protect from graft-versus-host disease
20.04.2017 | Technische Universität München

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>