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Anaemic patients helped by new drug

A new drug which has proved successful in a UK trial may help patients with a severe yet rare form of anaemia.

Pure-red cell aplasia (PRCA), associated with chronic kidney disease, causes a rapid and severe drop in the number of red blood cells produced by the bone marrow.

Patients treated with Hematide, the new drug, no longer required the costly and time-consuming blood transfusions that are normally required to treat the anaemia, during a trial at King's College Hospital in London.

The treatment may be preferred to transfusions, which carry a risk of infections, limited effectiveness and could cause the body to develop antibodies that risk the chances of a donor kidney being rejected by the body in future.

Only one of the 14 patients taking part in the trial did not experience an increase in red blood cell production. The rest no longer needed blood transfusions after being given monthly injections of Hematide over an an average period of two years.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

King's College Hospital

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"Does the drug help those who suffer from Sickle Cell conditions? I am excited that patients will benefit from a drug rather than transfusions. What a drug!!!" - Tsitsi Masukume, London