The first blood test to measure a key hormone that regulates iron has been recently developed by US researchers. The announcement was made on Friday by the University of California, Los Angeles. In collaboration with a San Diego biotech company, Intrinsic LifeSciences, university researchers have developed the first method to measure the hormone hepcidin. Hepcidin can be defined as a hormone that regulates the absorption of dietary iron and its distribution in the body.
Chronic diseases like anemia are caused when the availability of iron is blocked due to high levels of hepcidin in the blood. Furthermore, low levels of the hormone lead to excess of iron absorption from the diet which causes it to be released into the blood leading to iron toxicity. Thus low levels of the hormone could cause conditions like hemochromatosis or iron overload disease.
Administering the levels of hepcidin is a difficult task with the current tests. They simply measure some of the direct and indirect effects of hepcidin on iron and the iron- binding proteins transferrin and ferritin. With a drastic increase in the number of people suffering from iron-related diseases, this test will help clinicians better diagnose anemia and iron overload diseases.
The test is a novel method that will be used to measure the amount of hepcidin in the blood. The innovative blood test will offer much more information to clinicians to help diagnose conditions by monitoring the levels of this important hormone, in their patients.
Millions of people worldwide can thus heave a sigh of relief as this test will also enable clinicians to efficiently manage these chronic ailments.