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Emerging drug class may enhance red blood cell production in anemic patients
Date:12/22/2010

FINDINGS: By determining how corticosteroids act to increase production of red blood cell progenitors, Whitehead Institute researchers have identified a class of drugs that may be beneficial in treating some erythropoietin-resistant anemias. One such anemia is Diamond-Blackfan anemia (DBA), which is frequently treated with corticosteroids, despite their severe side-effects. The identified class of drugs may be able to treat other anemias, including those resulting from trauma, sepsis, malaria, kidney dialysis, and chemotherapy.

RELEVANCE: Some common anemias can be treated with the hormone erythropoietin (EPO), which stimulates red blood-cell production. However, certain anemias, including DBA, do not respond to EPO, creating a large unmet medical need.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (December 22, 2010) By determining how corticosteroids act to promote red blood cell progenitor formation, Whitehead Institute researchers have identified a class of drugs that may be beneficial in anemias, including those resulting from trauma, sepsis, malaria, kidney dialysis, and chemotherapy.

Anemia occurs due to a breakdown in erythropoiesis, the multi-step process that creates red blood cells. Some common anemias can be treated with a recombinant form of the hormone erythropoietin (EPO), which normally stimulates red blood-cell production at a fairly early stage of erythropoiesis.

However, certain anemias fail to respond to EPO, creating a large unmet medical need. In the case of Diamond Blackfan anemia (DBA), patients lack a sufficient number of EPO-responsive cells. Instead, corticosteroids such as prednisone or prednisolone are used to treat DBA, although it has been unclear exactly how these agents affect erythropoiesis.

To see how corticosteroids are able to increase red blood cell counts, Johan Flygare, a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Whitehead Institute Founding Member Harvey Lodish, purified two progenitors of red bloo
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Contact: Nicole Giese
giese@wi.mit.edu
617-258-6851
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
Source:Eurekalert

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