Our body needs most of its iron to make red blood cells. A lack of the metal can lead to dangerous anemias, but also too much iron can be detrimental as iron promotes the formation of toxic radicals leading to tissue damage. Iron overload is the consequence of one of the most common genetic disorders in Europe, hereditary hemochromatosis, which affects about one in 300 Europeans. Excess iron also accumulates after repeated blood transfusions and can cause organ failure over time. Günter Weiss, a clinician from the Innsbruck Medical University, and his collaborators from the University of Heidelberg and EMBL now found out that nifedipine, a substance commonly used to control blood pressure, helps the body deal with too much iron.
"We observed in mice with iron overload that nifedipine helps mobilise iron from stores in the liver and enhances its excretion into the urine," says Weiss, an EMBL alumnus who now heads a lab at the Department for General Internal Medicine at the University of Innsbruck. "These effects make nifedipine a promising candidate for a new drug to treat hereditary hemochromatosis and other iron overload disorders."
Combining electrophysiology, cell biology and molecular investigations, Weiss an
Source:European Molecular Biology Laboratory