Important link to anaemia

Research in the Cell Signalling Laboratory uncovered a link between an enzyme in the body known as “Lyn” and anaemia, a blood disorder that affects red blood cell production causing serious complications for patients. Anaemia

The findings, published in United States journal, Blood, could be used to fast-track treatments for patients who suffer specific types of anaemia.

Lead author, Associate Professor Evan Ingley, and other researchers explored the complicated biochemistry that occured in the body when it was making red blood cells. The process involved a naturally occurring protein, EPO, which gained notoriety as an illegal drug in competitive sports such as cycling.

"EPO is an important growth factor, which is produced by the kidneys and is needed in the process of turning stem cells into a healthy number of mature red blood cells, "Associate Professor Ingley explained.

"In this study, we were particularly interested in an enzyme, called Lyn, which is activated during this process and which is necessary for EPO to make red blood cells," he said.

The research explored the effects on red blood cells if too much of the Lyn enzyme was produced.

"The red blood cells with hyperactive Lyn looked very different to normal blood cells," Associate Professor Ingley said. "There were changes to the structure of the red blood cells resulting in lower numbers of red blood cells than that needed for good health."

Associate Professor Ingley said that drugs that turned off the Lyn enzyme were already available in the treatment of leukaemia and the study showed there was the potential for them to be used in other diseases in which severe anaemia was a problem.

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