Hereditary tyrosinaemia type I: From basics to progress in treatment
Hereditary tyrosinaemia type I is the most common of the diseases caused by defects in tyrosine metabolism. The underlying genetic defect is a mutation in the gene for fumarylacetate hydrolase (FAH), and more than 30 different mutations in this gene have been identified. The main clinical consequences of this defect include hepatic involvement, with a high risk for liver cancer, and renal tubular dysfunction. Restriction of phenylalanine and tyrosine from the diet along with supportive measures can ameliorate the symptoms, but cure has so far been possible only with liver transplantation. Recent discovery of a pharmacological treatment with a peroral inhibitor of tyrosine catabolic pathway, 2-(2-nitro-4-trifluoromethylbenzoyl)-1,3-cyclohexanedione (NTBC), offers a new promising tool for the treatment of patients with hereditary tyrosinaemia type I. Mouse models of FAH deficiency have been successfully used in experimental gene therapy, and these studies indicate that future management of tyrosinaemia with a gene therapeutic approach may become feasible.
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