Monday, June 10, 2013

Did you know: A potential drug target for treatment-resistant anemias has been identified?

Erythropoietin Created with data set "1buy"
from Protein Data Bank and the free program PyMOL

Anemia occurs when the multistep process that creates red blood cells breaks down. This process is called erythropoiesis. Common anemias can be treated with a recombinant hormone erythropoietin (EPO). However, some anemias fail to respond to EPO treatment. When EPO fails to help anemic patients doctors commonly turn to glucocorticoids, which have been shown to increase the number of times that red blood cell progenitors divide before they are induced to differentiate by EPO. Unfortunately, glucocorticoids have a number of negative side effects including: loss of bone density and immune suppression.

Scientists at Whitehead Institute have identified a protein whose expression is upregulated by glucocorticoids. They reported their findings in the Nature article entitled: 'ZFP36L2 is required for self-renewal of early burst-forming unit erythroid progenitors.' They found that ZFP36L2 binds to mRNA's that would normally lead to differentiation. Therefore, when ZFP36L2 is present continued proliferation of red blood cell progenitors is favored over differentiation.

With this new information in hand it will now be possible to screen for other compounds that similarly increase expression of ZFP36L2. Hopefully this will identify a compound that will have the desired effect on erythropoiesis without the negative side effects of glucocorticoids.

The microplate readers available from BMG LABTECH are ideally suited to the high throughput protein expression analysis that will be required to screen compounds that increase ZFP36L2. For more information on how BMG LABTECH readers like the PHERAstar or CLARIOstar can assist your protein expression analyses please visit the Applications Center on the BMG LABTECH website.