Sickle cell drug for babies, too

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A new study published in The Lancet finds that hydroxyurea, a cancer drug which has been used used to treat sickle cell disease in adults and adolescents since 1995, is also safe and effective for infants. Researchers — part of a team led by Dr. Winifred Wang of St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis — studied 193 infants and toddlers, ages 8 to 19 months, at 14 U.S. sites and found that those who were treated with hydroxyurea showed improvements in kidney and spleen function, as well as a 50 percent decrease in pain episodes.

“This is very good news,” says ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross. “It lends evidence-based support to doctors who wish to treat sickle cell babies with what is clearly a very useful drug.”