Dr Hal Drakesmith tells us how his work on iron availability can help us fight infections.
Iron plays essential biochemical roles in oxygen binding, ATP synthesis and DNA metabolism. The level of iron available in different tissues is controlled by the small peptide hormone hepcidin. Dr Hal Drakesmith studies how hepcidin is modulated during infections, since iron availability plays an important role in the course of major infectious diseases such as HIV, malaria and Hepatitis C. Genetic variation plays an important role in individual susceptibility to many common diseases. New insights into genetic variants which modulate gene expression allow us to better understand why people develop these diseases. We can then target treatments much more effectively. Ultimately, we will be able to identify patients at risk of developing disease.