Iron is an essential metal that people need for survival. In the blood, it helps to deliver oxygen where it is needed. We’ve known this for a long time.
Not having enough of it causes people to be anemic, which is something that can easily be found with a blood test.
However, breakthrough science discoveries have found a protein in iron that may be the key to curing pulmonary hypertension and polycythemia.
Research conducted at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and published in the journal Cell Metabolism recently uncovered a protein that may be responsible for causing not only high blood pressure in the lungs, but also the blood disorder polycythemia.
The protein, called Iron Regulatory Protein (IRP), is responsible for regulating how much iron is stored or used in the body. It is based upon oxygen levels, but not having enough of the protein causes a cascade of bad events.
The IRP determines the production of another protein that is generated when there isn’t enough oxygen in the blood, called HIF2 alpha. If there isn’t enough IRP, then HIF2 alpha is churned out by the truckload, because the missing IRP mimics low blood oxygen levels, even when oxygen is abundant.
This causes a much increased production of red blood cells, resulting in polycythemia (red blood cell concentration is too high).
It also causes the blood pressure in the lungs to become elevated due to the misguided perception of not enough oxygen.
Scientists hope the findings can lead to treatment for the missing protein that could cure pulmonary hypertension and polycythemia, which would eliminate dangerous and frustrating treatments that are the only available recourse for sufferers today.