Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Blood protein offers help against anemia

Date:
January 27, 2010
Source:
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Summary:
A new study shows that a protein found in blood alleviates anemia, a condition in which the body's tissues don't get enough oxygen from the blood. In this animal study, injections of the protein, known as transferrin, also protected against potentially fatal iron overload in mice with thalassemia, a type of inherited anemia that affects millions of people worldwide.

A new study shows that a protein found in blood alleviates anemia, a condition in which the body's tissues don't get enough oxygen from the blood. In this animal study, injections of the protein, known as transferrin, also protected against potentially fatal iron overload in mice with thalassemia, a type of inherited anemia that affects millions of people worldwide.

Implications of the study, published in the January 24 online edition of Nature Medicine, could extend well beyond thalassemia to include other types of anemia including sickle cell anemia and myelodysplastic syndromes (bone marrow disorders that often precede leukemia) if proven in humans. The research was conducted by scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.

"People who have thalassemia or other types of anemia need frequent blood transfusions over many years to correct the problem," says Mary E. Fabry, Ph.D., professor of medicine at Einstein and a study author. "But the human body has no way to get rid of the massive amount of iron in the transfused blood, and the resulting iron overload -- especially its accumulation in the heart and liver -- is often fatal. Our study suggests that treatment with transferrin could prevent this."

It's projected that over the next 20 years, more than 900,000 children with thalassemia will be born each year. Ninety-five percent of thalassemia births are in Asian, Indian, and Middle Eastern regions. However, the U.S. is seeing more cases due to a growing influx of immigrants.

In thalassemia, gene mutations lead to underproduction of the globin protein chains that form hemoglobin, the iron-containing, oxygen-carrying molecule in red blood cells. (Normal hemoglobin consists of four globin protein chains -- two alpha chains and two beta chains.) Fewer globin chains mean a shortage of red blood cells, a shorter lifespan for red cells that are produced, and anemia.

Thalassemia is classified as alpha or beta thalassemia, depending on which of the globin protein chains are affected. In a 2009 study involving beta thalassemic mice at Einstein, Dr. Fabry and her colleagues made a paradoxical observation: Despite the rodents' anemia and iron overload, injecting them with more iron improved their anemia by increasing both hemoglobin and the number of red cells.

This finding indicated that "overload" iron wasn't accessible for use in making red cells. And it suggested to Yelena Z. Ginzburg, M.D., a postdoctoral research fellow in Dr. Fabry's lab at the time and a senior author of the present study, that transferrin might be able to tap into that stored iron.

Transferrin is a crucially important protein responsible for transporting iron in the bloodstream and delivering it to cells that need it -- particularly the cells that develop into red blood cells. "Yelena [now a researcher at the New York Blood Center in New York City] hypothesized that too little transferrin in the circulation may account for the reduced red cell production and anemia observed in beta thalassemia," says Dr. Fabry. "So she decided to see if injections of transferring -- obtainable as a byproduct of blood collection -- could help in treating thalassemia."

In the present study, the researchers gave the beta thalassemia mice daily injections of human transferrin for 60 days. The results were impressive.

"The injected transferrin killed three birds with one stone," says Dr. Fabry. "It not only helped in depleting the iron overload that can be so toxic, but it recycled that iron into new red blood cells that ameliorated the anemia. Plus, those red cells survived for a longer time because they had fewer defects."

The Einstein researchers are cautiously optimistic that transferrin could have similar benefits for people.

"Before doing clinical trials, we need to work out a lot of details such as the proper dose of transferrin and the frequency of treatment," says Eric E. Bouhassira, Ph.D., another author of the study who is professor cell biology and of medicine and the Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert Professor of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at Einstein. "But transferrin's striking effectiveness in reducing iron overload makes me hopeful that people with anemia could really benefit from it."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Mary E. Fabry, Yelena Z. Ginzburg, Sandra M. Suzuka, Charles B. Hall, Anne C. Rybicki, Huihui Li, Leni von Bonsdorff, William Breuer and Z. Ioav Cabantchik. Transferrin therapy ameliorates disease in beta-thalassemic mice. Nature Medicine, January 24, 2010

Cite This Page:

Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "Blood protein offers help against anemia." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100126175925.htm>.
Albert Einstein College of Medicine. (2010, January 27). Blood protein offers help against anemia. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100126175925.htm
Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "Blood protein offers help against anemia." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100126175925.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Freetown a City on Edge

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Freetown a City on Edge

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) Residents of Sierra Leone's capital voice their fears as the Ebola virus sweeps through west Africa. Duration: 00:56 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
101-Year-Old Working Man Has All The Advice You Need

101-Year-Old Working Man Has All The Advice You Need

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) Herman Goldman has worked at the same lighting store for almost 75 years. Find out his secrets to a happy, productive life. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
American Ebola Patient Apparently Improving, Outbreak Is Not

American Ebola Patient Apparently Improving, Outbreak Is Not

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) Nancy Writebol, an American missionary who contracted Ebola, is apparently getting better, according to her husband. The outbreak, however, is not. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins