New marrow transplant has success against sickle cell

Doctors at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and two other centers have completely cured sickle cell anemia in six out of seven patients using a new, less toxic approach to bone marrow transplantation.

The patients, five of whom were treated at Children's by Dr. Lakshmanan Krishnamurti, got bone marrow from siblings after a reduced-intensity preparation of their bodies for the transplants, according to a study being published in the journal Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation.

The less intensive use of chemotherapy and radiation before the transplants cut the risks that come from completely wiping out a patient's bone marrow before the procedure.

Sickle cell anemia is an inherited disease that damages red blood cells and is particularly prevalent among African-Americans. It causes pain, breathing problems, strokes and organ damage and can shorten lifespans by 25 to 30 years. Bone marrow transplants, which create the ability to make healthy red blood cells from the donor, are the only known cure.

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