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Black Bone Disease: Is Nitisinone a Cure?

Published: 2013-09-14 - Updated: 2022-01-20
Author: AKU Society | Contact: akusociety.org
Peer-Reviewed Publication: N/A

Synopsis: Promising Black Bone Disease treatment called nitisinone requires funding for medical tests and clinical trial patient costs. Alkaptonuria (AKU) is also known as Black Bone Disease. This is because an acid in the body accumulates at 2,000 times the normal rate, attacking the bones and turning them black and brittle. It causes severely debilitating osteoarthritis, heart disease, and other serious health complications. Now a very promising treatment called nitisinone has been found. When taken early enough in life, it's effectively a cure. The real challenge is proving that this drug works in a clinical trial, in order to license nitisinone for use in AKU. The cure will then become a reality.

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Main Digest

Alkaptonuria, or AKU for short, was the first genetic disease to be discovered more than 110 years ago. Despite this, it still has no cure, and the medical world remains largely unaware of its existence and impact on everyday life.

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Alkaptonuria (AKU) is a rare condition that may first be identified when a baby's urine turns dark brown or black when exposed to oxygen. The disease is also known as "AKU," "Alcaptonuria," "homogentisic acid oxidase deficiency," "Black Bone Disease", and "homogentisic acidura." It affects one out of 250,000 to 1 million people (especially in Slovakia and Dominican Republic) and can cause severe osteoarthritis in those affected. The buildup of acid in the body creates black pigment that attaches to cartilage surrounding the joints. This condition is inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern, which means both copies of the gene in each cell have mutations. The parents of an individual with an autosomal recessive condition each carry one copy of the mutated gene, but they typically do not show signs and symptoms of the condition.

Symptoms of Alkaptonuria:

Alkaptonuria is often asymptomatic, but the sclera of the eyes may be pigmented (often only at a later age), and the skin may be darkened in sun-exposed areas and around sweat glands; sweat may be colored brown. Urine may turn brown or even inky black if collected and left exposed to open air, especially when left standing for a period of time. Kidney stones and stone formation in the prostate (in men) are common and may occur in more than a quarter of cases.

Chart showing how the funds will be spent
Chart showing how the funds will be spent

Three years ago, our CEO and Chairman, Nick Sireau, gave up his job in order to devote his time to finding a cure for AKU after his two kids were diagnosed. During these three years, he has worked tirelessly with teams in Liverpool, the United States and across Europe to plan a clinical trial. Now a very promising treatment called nitisinone has been found. When taken early enough in life, it's effectively a cure. The real challenge is proving that this drug works in a clinical trial, in order to license nitisinone for use in AKU. The cure will then become a reality.

AKU patients are scattered around the world, often faced with misdiagnosis, a lack of efficient care and a lack of awareness. This means patients from across Europe and beyond are needed to run a good clinical trial. They need assistance to:

Nick's vision is for children to never suffer the pain of Black Bone Disease.

Primary Information Source(s):

Black Bone Disease: Is Nitisinone a Cure? | AKU Society (akusociety.org). Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith. Content may have been edited for style, clarity or length.

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Cite This Page (APA): AKU Society. (2013, September 14). Black Bone Disease: Is Nitisinone a Cure?. Disabled World. Retrieved August 18, 2022 from www.disabled-world.com/disability/awareness/black-bone.php

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