Scientists who compiled what's known about the use of a drug called hydroxyurea to treat people with sickle cell disease have concluded that the drug is probably underused in people who need it the most. While more research remains to be done, and the drug may pose a risk in some people, the benefits seem profound, according to the write-up in ScienceDaily:
Specifically, they found that the number of intensely painful sickle cell "crises," caused when misshapen, "sickled" red blood cells clump in blood vessels, dropped by 68 to 84 percent in people taking hydroxyurea.
Their hospital admissions declined by 18 to 32 percent.On the biological side, amounts of fetal hemoglobin, a blood component that seems to decrease sickle cell symptoms, increased by 4 to 20 percent after patients began taking hydroxyurea.
The investigators, who received support from the US Department of Health and Human Services, acknowledged that they need to learn more about any possible connections between hydroxyurea and leg ulcers, leukemia, and pregnancy complications. The summary and original report are in in the June 17th issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.
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