Two new discoveries that may open up alternative methods to treat anemia have been revealed by West Australian researchers.
The team of researchers led by Peter Klinken, director Western Australian Institute for Medical Research (WAIMR) has found how a gene Hls5 affects red cell production.
They also found that thyroid hormone, which it was already known to affect metabolism, also contributed to red blood cell formation.
"We have established that Hls5 impedes the maturation of immature red blood cells which has provided us with a much better understanding of what Hls5 does and how it is linked with the development of leukaemias and cancers," said Klinken
"Another arm of our research has revealed that thyroid hormone, which it was already established affected metabolism, also contributes to red blood cell formation - which was previously unknown.
"Anaemias develop where a person's blood is low in red blood cells so the two discoveries we have made may provide an insight into how to turn these conditions around," he added.
Professor Klinken said both findings opened the door to exploring new ways of treating a range of anaemias.
"Our findings indicate that minor changes in Hls5 levels can have a big impact and so the possibility of modulating this gene to generate new treatments is significant," he said.
"As a number of patients don't respond to erythropoietin (EPO) - the current form of hormone therapy for anaemias - this new knowledge will hopefully lead to alternative treatments," he added.
The study appears in two papers published in Blood, the journal of the American Society of Hematology and the world's premier hematology journal.