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      Current and novel therapies for the prevention of vaso-occlusive crisis in sickle cell disease


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          Individuals with sickle cell disease (SCD) are living further into adulthood in high-resource countries. However, despite increased quantity of life, recurrent, acute painful episodes cause significant morbidity for affected individuals. These SCD-related painful episodes, also referred to as vaso-occlusive crises (VOCs), have multifactorial causes, and they often occur as a result of multicellular aggregation and vascular adherence of red blood cells, neutrophils, and platelets, leading to recurrent and unpredictable occlusion of the microcirculation. In addition to severe pain, long-term complications of vaso-occlusion may include damage to muscle and/or bone, in addition to vital organs such as the liver, spleen, kidneys, and brain. Severe pain associated with VOCs also has a substantial detrimental impact on quality of life for individuals with SCD, and is associated with increased health care utilization, financial hardship, and impairments in education and vocation attainment. Previous treatments have targeted primarily SCD symptom management, or were broad nontargeted therapies, and include oral or parenteral hydration, analgesics (including opioids), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents, and various other types of nonpharmacologic pain management strategies to treat the pain associated with VOC. With increased understanding of the pathophysiology of VOCs, there are several new potential therapies that specifically target the pathologic process of vaso-occlusion. These new therapies may reduce cell adhesion and inflammation, leading to decreased incidence of VOCs and prevention of end-organ damage. In this review, we consider the benefits and limitations of current treatments to reduce the occurrence of VOCs in individuals with SCD and the potential impact of emerging treatments on future disease management.

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          Mortality in sickle cell disease. Life expectancy and risk factors for early death.

          Information on life expectancy and risk factors for early death among patients with sickle cell disease (sickle cell anemia, sickle cell-hemoglobin C disease, and the sickle cell-beta-thalassemias) is needed to counsel patients, target therapy, and design clinical trials. We followed 3764 patients who ranged from birth to 66 years of age at enrollment to determine the life expectancy and calculate the median age at death. In addition, we investigated the circumstances of death for all 209 adult patients who died during the study, and used proportional-hazards regression analysis to identify risk factors for early death among 964 adults with sickle cell anemia who were followed for at least two years. Among children and adults with sickle cell anemia (homozygous for sickle hemoglobin), the median age at death was 42 years for males and 48 years for females. Among those with sickle cell-hemoglobin C disease, the median age at death was 60 years for males and 68 years for females. Among adults with sickle cell disease, 18 percent of the deaths occurred in patients with overt organ failure, predominantly renal. Thirty-three percent were clinically free of organ failure but died during an acute sickle crisis (78 percent had pain, the chest syndrome, or both; 22 percent had stroke). Modeling revealed that in patients with sickle cell anemia, the acute chest syndrome, renal failure, seizures, a base-line white-cell count above 15,000 cells per cubic millimeter, and a low level of fetal hemoglobin were associated with an increased risk of early death. Fifty percent of patients with sickle cell anemia survived beyond the fifth decade. A large proportion of those who died had no overt chronic organ failure but died during an acute episode of pain, chest syndrome, or stroke. Early mortality was highest among patients whose disease was symptomatic. A high level of fetal hemoglobin predicted improved survival and is probably a reliable childhood forecaster of adult life expectancy.
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            Effect of hydroxyurea on the frequency of painful crises in sickle cell anemia. Investigators of the Multicenter Study of Hydroxyurea in Sickle Cell Anemia.

            In a previous open-label study of hydroxyurea therapy, the synthesis of fetal hemoglobin increased in most patients with sickle cell anemia, with only mild myelotoxicity. By inhibiting sickling, increased levels of fetal hemoglobin might decrease the frequency of painful crises. In a double-blind, randomized clinical trial, we tested the efficacy of hydroxyurea in reducing the frequency of painful crises in adults with a history of three or more such crises per year. The trial was stopped after a mean follow-up of 21 months. Among 148 men and 151 women studied at 21 clinics, the 152 patients assigned to hydroxyurea treatment had lower annual rates of crises than the 147 patients given placebo (median, 2.5 vs. 4.5 crises per year, P < 0.001). The median times to the first crisis (3.0 vs. 1.5 months, P = 0.01) and the second crisis (8.8 vs. 4.6 months, P < 0.001) were longer with hydroxyurea treatment. Fewer patients assigned to hydroxyurea had chest syndrome (25 vs. 51, P < 0.001), and fewer underwent transfusions (48 vs. 73, P = 0.001). At the end of the study, the doses of hydroxyurea ranged from 0 to 35 mg per kilogram of body weight per day. Treatment with hydroxyurea did not cause any important adverse effects. Hydroxyurea therapy can ameliorate the clinical course of sickle cell anemia in some adults with three or more painful crises per year. Maximal tolerated doses of hydroxyurea may not be necessary to achieve a therapeutic effect. The beneficial effects of hydroxyurea do not become manifest for several months, and its use must be carefully monitored. The long-term safety of hydroxyurea in patients with sickle cell anemia is uncertain.
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              Hydroxycarbamide in very young children with sickle-cell anaemia: a multicentre, randomised, controlled trial (BABY HUG).

              Sickle-cell anaemia is associated with substantial morbidity from acute complications and organ dysfunction beginning in the first year of life. Hydroxycarbamide substantially reduces episodes of pain and acute chest syndrome, admissions to hospital, and transfusions in adults with sickle-cell anaemia. We assessed the effect of hydroxycarbamide therapy on organ dysfunction and clinical complications, and examined laboratory findings and toxic effects. This randomised trial was undertaken in 13 centres in the USA between October, 2003, and September, 2009. Eligible participants had haemoglobin SS (HbSS) or haemoglobin Sβ(0)thalassaemia, were aged 9-18 months at randomisation, and were not selected for clinical severity. Participants received liquid hydroxycarbamide, 20 mg/kg per day, or placebo for 2 years. Randomisation assignments were generated by the medical coordinating centre by a pre-decided schedule. Identical appearing and tasting formulations were used for hydroxycarbamide and placebo. Patients, caregivers, and coordinating centre staff were masked to treatment allocation. Primary study endpoints were splenic function (qualitative uptake on (99)Tc spleen scan) and renal function (glomerular filtration rate by (99m)Tc-DTPA clearance). Additional assessments included blood counts, fetal haemoglobin concentration, chemistry profiles, spleen function biomarkers, urine osmolality, neurodevelopment, transcranial Doppler ultrasonography, growth, and mutagenicity. Study visits occurred every 2-4 weeks. Analysis was by intention to treat. The trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00006400. 96 patients received hydroxycarbamide and 97 placebo, of whom 83 patients in the hydroxycarbamide group and 84 in the placebo group completed the study. Significant differences were not seen between groups for the primary endpoints (19 of 70 patients with decreased spleen function at exit in the hydroxycarbamide group vs 28 of 74 patients in the placebo group, p=0·21; and a difference in the mean increase in DTPA glomerular filtration rate in the hydroxycarbamide group versus the placebo group of 2 mL/min per 1·73 m(2), p=0·84). Hydroxycarbamide significantly decreased pain (177 events in 62 patients vs 375 events in 75 patients in the placebo group, p=0·002) and dactylitis (24 events in 14 patients vs 123 events in 42 patients in the placebo group, p<0·0001), with some evidence for decreased acute chest syndrome, hospitalisation rates, and transfusion. Hydroxyurea increased haemoglobin and fetal haemoglobin, and decreased white blood-cell count. Toxicity was limited to mild-to-moderate neutropenia. On the basis of the safety and efficacy data from this trial, hydroxycarbamide can now be considered for all very young children with sickle-cell anaemia. The US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

                Author and article information

                Ther Adv Hematol
                Ther Adv Hematol
                Therapeutic Advances in Hematology
                SAGE Publications (Sage UK: London, England )
                29 September 2020
                : 11
                : 2040620720955000
                [1-2040620720955000]Non-Malignant Hematology Section, The Levine Cancer Institute and Atrium Health, Charlotte, NC, USA
                [2-2040620720955000]Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, NY, USA
                [3-2040620720955000]Division of Hematology and Oncology, University of Alabama Birmingham, 1720 2nd Avenue S, NP 2510, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA
                Author notes
                Author information
                © The Author(s), 2020

                This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages ( https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).

                : 28 January 2020
                : 10 August 2020
                Funded by: health resources and services administration, FundRef https://doi.org/10.13039/100000102;
                Funded by: North Carolina Division of Public Health, ;
                Funded by: Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, ;
                Funded by: bluebird bio and Global Blood Therapeutics, ;
                Funded by: bluebird bio and Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp, ;
                Custom metadata
                January-December 2020

                crizanlizumab,fetal hemoglobin,hydroxyurea,l-glutamine,sickle cell disease,vaso-occlusive crisis,voxelotor


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