Single and combination drug therapy for fetal hemoglobin augmentation in hemoglobin E-beta 0-thalassemia: Considerations for treatment.
Singer ST., Kuypers FA., Olivieri NF., Weatherall DJ., Mignacca R., Coates TD., Davies S., Sweeters N., Vichinsky EP.
Patients with hemoglobin E (Hb E)-beta 0-thalassemia, one of the most common hemoglobinopathies worldwide, could benefit from drugs that increase fetal and total hemoglobin levels and thereby decrease the need for transfusions. The long-term clinical outcome of such therapy, its hematologic effects, and which patients are likely to benefit from treatment are unknown. Consequently, the use of such drugs for Hb E-beta 0-thalassemia is limited, and countries where resources for safe and regular transfusion are scarce cannot benefit from them. In a multicenter trial of 42 patients treated with hydroxyurea for two years, almost half the patients demonstrated a significant increase in steady-state hemoglobin level. Drug toxicity was minimal. Combined treatment of hydroxyurea with erythropoietin benefited selected patients, but the addition of sodium phenyl butyrate was ineffective. After 5 years of follow-up, a subset of patients remained off transfusions. Hydroxyurea should be considered for a subset of Hb E-beta 0-thalassemia patients.