Hemoglobin switching protocols in thalassemia - Experience with sodium phenylbutyrate and hydroxyurea

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Homozygous β thalassemia affects thousands of people around the world. Current management of this condition includes regular transfusion of red cells, which leads to transfusional iron overload requiring chelation therapy: increasing hemoglobin levels while decreasing or eliminating iron overload is therefore a major therapeutic goal in the treatment of thalassemia. Bone marrow transplantation may achieve this goal, but it is not an option for most patients. This study reports on efforts to increase γ-globin transcription and HbF production using sodium phenylbutyrate (SPB) and hydroxyurea (HU). It was found that 36% (4/11) of all patients or 50% (4/8) of non-transfused patients responded to SPB (increase in Hb levels of 1g/dL). A positive correlation between baseline serum erythropoietin level and likelihood of response to SPB was observed. Since HU may also increase HbF production, evaluation of combination therapy with these drugs is underway and preliminary results are reported.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)80-86
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
StatePublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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