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Manchester scientist in hormone research breakthrough

15 Jun 2009

Researchers at the Universities of Manchester and Birmingham have solved a genetic problem that causes the accumulation of male hormones – called androgens – in women.

The findings, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, may ultimately lead to a better understanding of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which affects fertility and causes other health problems in women.

The research identified a defect in the pathway for making steroid hormones in the adrenal gland. Although the case studied was a rare one, making such breakthroughs can give special understanding of the common cause of excess androgens in women. PCOS affects approximately 10 per cent of all women at some point in their reproductive life.

Professor Neil Hanley, one of several leading endocrinologists based within the Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), contributed to the studies, which were led by colleagues in Birmingham.

According to Professor Hanley, collaboration has been a key aspect of the research: "What is particularly rewarding about this research is that it is part of a much bigger ongoing interaction between my group in Manchester and the Birmingham team of Professor Wiebke Arlt."

The Manchester BRC recruited Professor Hanley only a year ago from Southampton. He added: "The reason I moved my group was the strength of endocrinology at The University of Manchester, the Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and across the city as a whole, so it is nice to have contributed promptly to the success of the Manchester BRC."


Notes for editors

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Manchester Biomedical Research Centre is a partnership between the Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and The University of Manchester. 

The NIHR provides the framework through which the research staff and research infrastructure of the NHS in England is positioned, maintained and managed as a national research facility. The NIHR provides the NHS with the support and infrastructure it needs to conduct first-class research funded by the Government and its partners alongside high-quality patient care, education and training. Its aim is to support outstanding individuals (both leaders and collaborators), working in world class facilities (both NHS and university), conducting leading edge research focused on the needs of patients.

The BRC also receives funding from the North West Regional Development Agency.

For further information please contact:

  • Jill Hulme, Communications Officer, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, on 07913 278514
  • Ben Grothusen, Communications Officer, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, on 0161 901 2659
  • Aeron Haworth, Media Relations Officer, Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, The University of Manchester, on 0161 275 8383