Researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have discovered a novel cause of iron overload in patients with thalassemia, a genetic blood disorder that causes anemia. According to the study, thalassemia patients overproduce a protein called GDF15, which suppresses the production of a liver protein, hepcidin, which in turn leads to an increase in the uptake of dietary iron in the gut. This finding has implications for iron metabolism in other diseases, including cancer, and may contribute to the future development of therapies for thalassemia. The study, led by researchers at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at the NIH, appears online August 26, 2007, as an Advanced Online Publication in the journal Nature Medicine.
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