Potential treatment for iron overload disorders

November 01, 2011

Multiple organs, including the liver and the heart, become damaged if an individual has an excessive amount of iron in their body. Treatments for iron overload are arduous and/or have severe side effects. A team of researchers led by Elizabeta Nemeth, at the University of California, Los Angeles, has now generated data in mice that suggest that they have designed a promising new approach to reducing iron overload.

Iron overload is a hallmark of the genetic disease hereditary hemochromatosis and a major complication of beta-thalassemia -- an inherited blood disorder that results in chronic anemia. In both of these cases, low levels of the protein hepcidin cause the iron overload. Nemeth and colleagues have designed hepcidin agonists, which they call minihepcidins, that mimic the ability of natural hepcidin to lower levels of iron in the blood of mice. They therefore suggest that minihepcidins may be a useful new approach for treating individuals with iron overload disorders.
TITLE: Minihepcidins are rationally designed small peptides that mimic hepcidin activity in mice and may be useful for the treatment of iron overload

Elizabeta Nemeth
David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA.
Phone: 310-825-7499; Fax: 310-206-8766; E-mail:

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