Blood test can now detect Australia's most common genetic condition
Edith Cowan University (ECU) researchers have developed a way to use data already gathered in Australia’s most commonly ordered blood test to detect the iron overload disorder HFE Haemochromatosis.
Haemochromatosis is the most common genetic disorder affecting people of Northern European descent and results in too much iron being absorbed by the body.
If left untreated, it can lead to arthritis, cirrhosis of the liver, heart disease, diabetes mellitus and certain forms of cancer.
Haemochromatosis is commonly asymptomatic or can manifest with symptoms of fatigue and lethargy.
Researchers from Edith Cowan University's School of Medical & Health Sciences have found a way to detect haemochromatosis using the results of the Full Blood Count – a standard test used every day to diagnose a range of other conditions.
By donating blood, people with haemochromatosis not only reduce the amount of iron in their body, they also provide a donation that could save another person's life.
Lead researcher Professor John Olynyk, who is also the Head of Gastroenterology at Fiona Stanley Fremantle Hospital Group, said the ability to detect the condition early would greatly benefit sufferers.
"We know that the earlier we are able to detect haemochromatosis, the sooner treatment can start and the better the outcomes are for sufferers," he said.
"The treatment for haemochromatosis is to start regularly donating blood. By donating blood, people with haemochromatosis not only reduce the amount of iron in their body, they also provide a donation that could save another person’s life."