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Manchester researcher in hormone research breakthrough

Studies involving a researcher from the National Institute for Health Research Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) have found the answer to a genetic problem causing accumulation of male hormones (called androgens) in women.

The findings may ultimately lead to a better understanding of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which affects fertility and causes other health problems for women. The research identified a defect in the pathway for making steroid hormones in the adrenal gland. Although the case studied was a rare one, making such breakthroughs can give special understanding of the common cause of excess androgens in women, polycystic ovarian syndrome.

PCOS affects approximately ten per cent of all women at some point in their reproductive life. Professor Neil Hanley, one of several leading endocrinologists at Manchester, contributed to the studies, which were led by researchers at the University of Birmingham and published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.

According to Professor Hanley, collaboration has been a key aspect of the research. "What is particularly rewarding about this research is that it is part of a much bigger on-going interaction between my group in Manchester and the Birmingham team of Professor Wiebke Arlt."

The Manchester BRC recruited Professor Hanley only a year ago from Southampton. "The reason I moved my group was the strength of endocrinology at The University of Manchester, the Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and across the city as a whole, so it is nice to have contributed promptly to the success of the Manchester BRC."