Erythropoietin (Epo) is a glycoprotein hormone that is the prime regulator of erythropoiesis. Recombinant Epo is a highly effective pharmaceutical used to correct anemias associated with renal insufficiency, cancer and other diseases. Efforts to increase its efficacy in vivo by manipulating the proteins structure have met with some success, and novel Epo-like agents are in development. Additionally, efforts to create Epo mimetic agents are underway, as is the design of agents to increase endogenous production. Because Epo has tissue protective actions outside of erythropoiesis, other designs have focused on producing erythropoietically inactive molecules that still retain extra-hematopoietic activity. The demonstration that Epo can trigger signaling in some cancer cells with, potentially, adverse effects on patient health has raised warning signs in the medical community and has gained the attention of regulatory authorities.
Keywords: Erythropoietin, erythropoietin receptor, glycosylation, pegylation, fusion proteins, mimetics, heteroreceptor, cancer
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