The discovery of a gene (TMPRSS6) that causes a rare form of iron deficiency may help in the development of new ways to treat iron disorders in the general population, according to researchers who studied five families with iron-refractory iron-deficiency anemia (IRIDA).
The families all had a variety of mutations in TMPRSS6. Deficiency of the TMPRSS6 protein results in overproduction of a hormone called hepcidin, which inhibits intestinal absorption of iron, Agence France-Presse reported.
The finding suggests that drugs designed to stimulate TMPRSS6 production may help some patients with anemia, particularly those with hepcidin overproduction. On the other hand, a drug that blocks TMPRSS6 production could help patients with iron overload disorders by increasing levels of hepcidin in order to limit intestinal iron absorption.
The study was published online Sunday in the journal Nature Genetics.
Lack of iron is the most common of nutritional deficiencies and a leading cause of anemia, AFP reported.