Researchers Find Key Molecule for Iron Transport That Could Lead to New Therapies for Anemia; Molecule Found Naturally in Japanese Cypress Tree Leaves

Scientists have identified a key molecule that could lead to new therapies for anemia and other iron disorders "Without iron, life itself wouldn't be feasible," says Barry Paw, MD, PhD, a co-senior author of a new report in Science and Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Boston Children’s Hospital . "Iron transport is very important because of the role it plays in oxygen transport in blood, key metabolic processes and DNA replication." New findings reported in the May 12, 2017 issue of Science by a multi-institutional team, including researchers from University of Illinois, Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Northeastern University, could impact a wide range of iron disorders, ranging from iron-deficiency anemia to iron-overload liver disease. The team has discovered that a small molecule found naturally in Japanese cypress tree leaves, hinokitiol, can bypass iron disorders in animals. Dr. Paw, co-senior author on the new Science paper and physician at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's, and members of his lab demonstrated that hinokitiol can successfully reverse iron deficiency and iron overload in zebrafish disease models. As a result, hinokitiol is believed to have significant therapeutic potential.
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