Porphyrias in the age of targeted therapies

Angelika L. Erwin, Manisha Balwani

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The porphyrias are a group of eight rare genetic disorders, each caused by the deficiency of one of the enzymes in the heme biosynthetic pathway, resulting in the excess accumulation of heme precursors and porphyrins. Depending on the tissue site as well as the chemical characteristics of the accumulating substances, the clinical features of different porphyrias vary substantially. Heme precursors are neurotoxic, and their accumulation results in acute hepatic porphyria, while porphyrins are photoactive, and excess amounts cause cutaneous porphyrias, which present with photosensitivity. These disorders are clinically heterogeneous but can result in severe clinical manifestations, long-term complications and a significantly diminished quality of life. Medical management consists mostly of the avoidance of triggering factors and symptomatic treatment. With an improved understanding of the underlying pathophysiology and disease mechanisms, new treatment approaches have become available, which address the underlying defects at a molecular or cellular level, and promise significant improvement, symptom prevention and more effective treatment of acute and chronic disease manifestations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1795
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Acute porphyria
  • Afamelanotide
  • Chaperone
  • Ciclopirox
  • Cutaneous porphyria
  • Givosiran
  • Hematin
  • Heme biosynthesis
  • MT-7117
  • Porphyria
  • SiRNA
  • Small molecule


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