A treatment for one form of albinism?

September 26, 2011

Individuals with oculocutaneous albinism, type 1 (OCA1) have white hair, very pale skin, and light-colored irises because they have none, or very little, of the pigment melanin in their skin, hair, and eyes. Affected individuals have impaired eyesight and a substantially increased risk of skin cancer. Current treatment options are limited to attempts to correct eyesight and counseling to promote the use of sun protective measures. A team of researchers, led by Brian Brooks, at the National Eye Institute, Bethesda, has now generated data in mice that provide hope for a new treatment for a subset of patients with OCA1.

OCA1 is caused by mutations in the gene Tyr that result in either complete loss of activity of the protein tyrosinase (which is key to the generation of melanin) or the generation of a tyrosinase protein with reduced activity. Brooks and colleagues found that treating mice that model OCA1 caused by mutations that generate a tyrosinase protein with reduced activity (OCA-1B) with nitisinone, which is already FDA-approved for treating a blood condition known as hereditary tyrosinemia type 1, increases their eye and hair pigmentation. They therefore suggest that nitisinone could improve pigmentation in patients with OCA-1B and potentially ameliorate their .

In an accompanying commentary, Seth Orlow and Prashiela Manga, at New York University School of Medicine, New York, discuss the inspired study of Brooks and colleagues but caution that there are issues that might limit the use of nitisinone as a treatment for OCA-1B.

More information: www.jci.org/articles/view/5937 … c430e731d09cdd050632

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Team finds link between backup immune defense, mutation seen in Crohn's disease

July 27, 2017
Genes that regulate a cellular recycling system called autophagy are commonly mutated in Crohn's disease patients, though the link between biological housekeeping and inflammatory bowel disease remained a mystery. Now, researchers ...

Study finds harmful protein on acid triggers a life-threatening disease

July 27, 2017
Using an array of modern biochemical and structural biology techniques, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have begun to unravel the mystery of how acidity influences a small protein called serum ...

CRISPR sheds light on rare pediatric bone marrow failure syndrome

July 27, 2017
Using the gene editing technology CRISPR, scientists have shed light on a rare, sometimes fatal syndrome that causes children to gradually lose the ability to manufacture vital blood cells.

Brain cells found to control aging

July 26, 2017
Scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine have found that stem cells in the brain's hypothalamus govern how fast aging occurs in the body. The finding, made in mice, could lead to new strategies for warding off age-related ...

Post-stroke patients reach terra firma with new exosuit technology

July 26, 2017
Upright walking on two legs is a defining trait in humans, enabling them to move very efficiently throughout their environment. This can all change in the blink of an eye when a stroke occurs. In about 80% of patients post-stroke, ...

Molecular hitchhiker on human protein signals tumors to self-destruct

July 24, 2017
Powerful molecules can hitch rides on a plentiful human protein and signal tumors to self-destruct, a team of Vanderbilt University engineers found.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.