Pregnancy hormone prolactin 'can help to combat SLA'
27 July 2011 00:00 in Scientific Developments/Breakthroughs
Researchers have found that a pregnancy hormone could be used to combat spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a serious genetic disorder.
A team from the University of Ottawa has found that the hormone prolactin is capable of creating an unprecedented level of activation of a copy gene that has been identified as a key treatment target for the condition.
NHS figures show that there are between 5,500 and 6,000 people in the UK affected by SMA at any time, with no cure currently available.
It is caused by the loss of a specific gene, leading to muscle weakness, loss of motor control and a high risk of mortality, but all sufferers of the disease have an untouched highly similar gene that can produce proteins to counteract it.
Prolactin was shown to achieve this in animal test models, leading to prolonged survival rates and improved motor control.
Faraz Farooq, a PhD student working on the project, said: "This represents a significant advance in the search for a therapy for this disease."
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