November 11, 2008

Sickle Cell Bone Marrow Transplant Best

A new study says a bone marrow transplantation regimen relying on reduced-intensity conditioning is the only safe and effective cure for sickle cell disease.

Dr. Lakshmanan Krishnamurti of the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh helped pioneer the transplant method that relies on RIC regimens that involve reduced amounts of certain drugs and are, therefore, less toxic to patients. RIC can be offered to patients with severe sickle cell disease because it eliminates life-threatening side effects generally associated with routine bone marrow transplantation.

In a study published in the November issue of the journal Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, Krishnamurti and colleagues report six of seven sickle cell patients who received RIC bone marrow transplants during the last decade are now free from their sickle cell disease.

"Bone marrow transplant is the only known cure for sickle cell disease. But doctors have avoided performing them in these patients because complications from a traditional bone marrow transplant can be life-threatening," Krishnamurti said. "Through the reduced-intensity approach we developed, the potential for complications is dramatically lessened. This study offers hope for a cure to thousands of patients with severe sickle cell disease."