Manchester genetics team finds vitamin link to childhood health problems
A group of Manchester genetic medicine researchers and doctors
have identified a completely new inherited childhood disorder that
can be treated with a form of vitamin, helping to prevent anaemia
The condition is caused by an inherited change in an important
enzyme called dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR). DHFR plays a
significant role in how the body handles certain vitamins called
folates. When the body is lacking DHFR, children can develop
serious health problems including anaemia and epilepsy.
The identification of the specific genetic change has lead to
treatment of this condition with a form of the folate
vitamin. It is likely that there are many other children with
this condition, which has been previously unrecognised. They
could now benefit from a clear diagnosis and rapid treatment.
The research team brings together experts from the Biomedical Research Centre and The
University of Manchester. Its findings have just been
published in the prestigious American Journal of Human Genetics.
Dr Siddharth Banka, funded by a three-year £185,000 Biomedical Research Centre Fellowship, led the
research study, working closely with Dr Bill Newman and Dr Simon Jones. He
believes the findings may also have exciting implications in
improving our understanding of a range of other diseases like
Alzheimer's and depression.
"In addition, many anti-cancer drugs work by blocking DHFR in
cancers such as leukaemia. We hope that our discovery will
lead to a better understanding of this enzyme and result in
improving cancer treatments" said Dr Banka.