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The CIMA from the University of Navarra and a Dutch scientific center have found a treatment for porphyria

This pre-clinical new genetic therapy could fight against the hereditary ailment which increases the risk of liver cancer and kidney failure

Descripcion de la imagen
FOTO: Manuel Castells
22/03/07 12:15 Mª Pilar Huarte

The Center for Applied Medical Research (CIMA) from the University of Navarra and the Amsterdam Molecular Therapeutics BV (AMT) have demonstrated the pre-clinical effectiveness of a treatment against acute intermittent porphyria. Once the pre-clinical, toxicological and clinical phases are completed, it may be possible to eliminate this disease permanently.

The research on this hereditary disease has been developed in the Area of Genetic Therapy and Hepatology of the CIMA. Dr. Jesús Prieto coordinated the research, which was carried out by scientists Gloria González Aseguinolaza, Astrid Pañeda, Rubén Hernández Alcoceba and Antonio Fontanellas.

"The symptoms of this disease appear when there are anomalies in the production of heme, a basic substance for the synthesis of vital proteins such as hemoglobin, myoglobin and cytochrome," explains Jesús Prieto.

Among the problems that this disease causes, which until now have been incurable, are included internal neuropsychological disturbances and severe stomach pains. As well, acute attacks of porphyria can be fatal "if they cause grave neurological complications."

Occurs with greater frequency in women

Persons affected will intermittently suffer from the symptoms of porphyria throughout their entire life. Upon occasion, they appear in adolescence and more frequently in adulthood, with greater occurrence in women. "Some medicines, such as barbiturates, tranquilizers and sedatives, can trigger the disease; as well as diets, hormonal irregularities, tobacco, alcohol, infections or emotional and physical stress," added the scientist.

Research on this disease has been funded by several organizations; among them, the Fundacion Inocente and Mutua Madrileña, as well as the businesses which finance the CIMA from the University of Navarra.

After testing the effectiveness of the treatment, the CIMA and the AMT have obtained exclusive rights to synthesize and develop the medications. Currently, the clinical phase is scheduled to begin in 2008 and the treatments should be available to the public in 2010.

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