A MOTHER believes her 26-year-old son's sudden death could have been hastened by a rare growth condition, an inquest in Burnley has heard.

Paramedics rushed Anthony Beneduce to the accident and emergency department at Burnley General Hospital after he collapsed at a house in the town's Queen Victoria Road, the hearing was told.

Post-mortem examinations have found that he had morphine in his system, along with alcohol and anti-depressants.

The inquest heard that Mr Beneduce, of Todmorden Road, Briercliffe, had suffered from problems with depression and drugs before his collapse.

But his mother Janice Beneduce says that her son was undergoing tests for a condition known as Acromegaly around the time of his death.

Acromegaly is a condition caused by excessive production of growth hormone, and usually occurs in adulthood.

It can cause the facial bones and hands to grow to excess, weight gain and organ enlargement. If not treated it can lead to diabetes and eventually chronic heart failure.

Mrs Beneduce said there was evidence of an enlarged heart, at the time of her son's death, which is held to a be a common factor in cases of acromegaly by experts.

She told the inquest: "Just before his death, he was so desperate to find out was wrong with him.

"I have made it my mission to find out for myself and I know that I am clutching at straws a little."

Mrs Beneduce also doubted whether the alcohol, found in her son's system, had a bearing on his death.

She described him as a relatively light drinker and believed he had only drank two cans of lager before he collapsed.

Pathologist Dr Walid Salman said he considered that the principal factor in Mr Beneduce's death was morphine toxicity, with the alcohol and other drugs found in his system acting only as minor contributory factors.

Dr Salman said he could find no evidence of a tumour affecting the pituatary gland, a common indicator of acromegaly, or other evidence available as a result of the post-mortem.

East Lancashire Coroner Richard Taylor asked him: "Are you accepting that it is a possibility that (Acromegaly) could also have contributed to the problems that have been raised?"

Dr Salman added: "That is a possibility but there is no proof of that.

"There is no MRI scan showing that, or any evidence of an investigation confirming the fact that he did have this disease."

Mr Beneduce's inquest was first opened in March 2, 2006, but was adjourned until September.

At the next hearing Mr Taylor asked for witnesses to be interviewed further by police and resumed the hearing this week.

This week coroner Mr Taylor again adjourned the inquest after hearing the medical evidence.

The coroner was last night preparing to issue a summons for a witness, who was with Mr Beneduce before he died, after he failed to attend the resumed inquest.