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Progress toward an alternative for EPO: Gas6 offers remedy where EPO fails today
Date:1/31/2008

Leuven, Belgium − Many patients with a chronic disease or cancer have to contend with anemia − and the severe fatigue that accompanies anemia impedes the patient considerably in his or her daily activities. At present, the hormone EPO is administered to a large number of these patients to alleviate the anemia. But unfortunately, treatment with EPO is not always effective, and not all patients respond to this therapy. VIB scientists connected to the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven have been researching the role of the Gas6 protein. This substance has proven successful in the treatment of mice with anemia, without causing the side effects that the use of EPO entails. In addition, Gas6 contributes to a reinforcement of EPOs effect. Gas6 might possibly form the basis for a new treatment for anemia and offer a remedy for patients where EPO is ineffective.

What is anemia?

When the blood contains too few red blood cells, or when the red blood cells contain too little hemoglobin, the condition is called anemia. Hemoglobin binds to oxygen from the lungs and conveys it throughout our bodies, where it plays an essential role in the bodys production of energy. If there are not enough red blood cells in our body, or if the red blood cells do not contain enough hemoglobin, then insufficient oxygen is transported. A shortage of oxygen in our tissues can cause people to feel tired and weak, and serious cardiovascular, neurological and musculoskeletal abnormalities develop.

EPO as the remedy

EPO (or Erythropoietin) is a hormone that is produced predominantly in the kidneys and that stimulates the formation of red blood cells. However, sometimes the kidneys do not produce enough EPO and anemia results. Such a shortage of EPO often occurs in patients with a chronic disorder (like kidney failure or rheumatoid arthritis) and in cancer patients. In the case of cancer, anemia can be caused by the disease itself as well as b
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Contact: Ann Van Gysel
info@vib.be
329-244-6611
VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology)
Source:Eurekalert

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