In a surprising development, a research team led by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), has found that a class of experimental anti-cancer drugs also shows promise in laboratory studies for treating a fatal genetic disorder that causes premature aging.
These drugs belong to a class of farnesyltransferase inhibitors (FTIs), and are currently being tested in people with myeloid leukemia, neurofibromatosis and other conditions. It could also provide a potential therapy for children suffering from Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome, commonly referred to as progeria.
Progeria is a genetic disorder characterized by growth retardation and accelaration of symptoms of aging -- namely hair loss, skin wrinkling and fat loss. Accelerated cardiovascular disease also ensues, typically causing death from heart attack or stroke at about the age of 12. The disease is estimated to affect one in every 4 million children and there is no satisfactory treatment available.
The study involved the treatment of the skin cells of progeria patients under laboratory conditions. The results have given the required insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying the genetic disorder. In addition it has also provided important clues regarding treating these patients. If the attempts prove successful, then it might be possible to have a cure for the disorder that has been regarded to be incurable.