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New $1.16 million study investigates how dietary iron is used by cells

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A four-year study on iron metabolism within cells, an essential process that impacts both iron deficiency and iron toxicity, conditions responsible for a multitude of human diseases, is underway at the University at Buffalo funded by a $1.16 million grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

Daniel Kosman, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, is lead researcher on the study.

The concern about how iron is managed in our cells has never been more acute, said Kosman. The reasons for this are three-fold. First is the endemic problem of iron deficiency that the World Health Organization estimates afflicts 80 percent of the worlds population, or more than 5 billion people.

Iron deficiency is not confined to developing nations. In the U.S., 5 percent of newborns and 7 percent of new mothers have clinical symptoms of iron deficiency. Reducing the incidence of this nutritional deficit is one of the objectives of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2010 program.

Second is the broad recognition that the corrosive chemistry associated with iron and oxygen interactions is a major factor in a multitude of human diseases.

Too much iron in tissues, called iron-loading, is thought to increase the risk of tumor development, infection, cardiomyopathy, joint disorders and several endocrine and neurodegenerative disorders.

And third, we now have an increasingly sophisticated knowledge and understanding of iron metabolic pathways, the proteins involved in these pathways and how these pathways are regulated in all organisms, making this issue ripe for investigation, he said.

Kosman proposes that a general mechanism of cellular iron metabolism requires that iron-handling proteins involved in sequential steps in the pathway must be architecturally arranged contiguo
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Contact: Lois Baker
ljbaker@buffalo.edu
716-645-5000 x1417
University at Buffalo
21-Jun-2007


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