National AKU Centre (NAC)

The Robert Gregory National Alkaptonuria Centre

Many people diagnosed with alkaptonuria (AKU) have difficulty accessing efficient and effective care to treat their AKU. For some, there has been a lack of local expertise and knowledge when dealing with such a rare disease, resulting in the failure to detect complications of AKU and an inability to make appropriate treatments available.

The Robert Gregory National Alkaptonuria Centre exists to change this. It is needed to ensure that everyone with AKU has access to a knowledgeable team of specialists who can manage their care efficiently.

The National AKU Centre was established by the Department of Health (National Specialised Services Commissioning Group) and opened to patients on 18th June 2012. The service was set up to provide assessments and treatment for people with AKU and is based at The Royal Liverpool University Hospital. It is a free NHS service open to anyone over the age of 16 who has been diagnosed with AKU and living in England or Scotland.

Patients who attend the National AKU Centre will receive:

  • A full health assessment and treatment of AKU
  • Access to the drug nitisinone
  • Advice on living with and managing the disease.

Referral to The National AKU Centre

Once a diagnosis of AKU has been confirmed a GP or other relevant medical professional can make a referral to the National AKU Centre. Diagnosis is confirmed by measuring the homogentisic acid levels in a blood or urine test. The referral is assessed by the team in Liverpool and the person is then invited to attend the National Centre.

Referrals from Wales

Wales has its own referral process for accessing the NAC. In the first instance, a GP or relevant physician must follow the appropriate clinical gateway. For AKU, a person has to be referred to the Clinical Gatekeeper based at Cardiff University Hospital. They will determine whether the specialist services needed to meet an individual’s needs is available in Wales.

If it is deemed that such services are not available a referral to the NAC is agreed and the Gatekeeper will apply to the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee for funding. If funding is agreed, the Gatekeeper can make a direct referral to the NAC .

If you would like to know more about the National Alkaptonuria Centre, please contact Lesley Harrison by emailing her at or giving her a call on 07586759028.

Image of a doctor putting a patient into an MRI machine

Tissue Donations

‘We request that patients continue to donate their tissues following any surgery carried out. We have learned so much from studying the tissues donated that has improved our understanding of alkaptonuria. The University of Liverpool and the Liverpool University Hospital continues to request that patients contact them when any surgery is undertaken, especially gall bladder surgery (biliary stones and bile) and eyes (including fluid from the eye called aqueous humour and lens following cataract surgery).’