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Experimental bone marrow treatment appears to reverse sickle cell disease

blood cells.jpg

An experimental bone marrow transplant treatment effectively reversed sickle cell disease in 9 of 10 adults, according to a National Institutes of Health study published in the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

In the trial:

Investigators used a low dose of radiation to the whole body and two drugs, alemtuzumab and sirolimus, to suppress the immune system. The radiation favorably conditions the bone marrow, where donor stem cells move in and begin producing new, healthy red blood cells. After a median two and one half years follow-up, all 10 recipients were alive and sickle cell disease was eliminated in nine.

Principal investigator John F. Tisdale, MD, commented on the study in a release saying:

Given these results, our regimen will likely have broad application to other nonmalignant diseases and can be performed at most transplant centers.

Photo by Andrew Mason

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