Dr. Richter on Pomalidomide as Sickle Cell Disease Treatment

Joshua Richter, MD
Published Online: Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Joshua Richter, MD, hematologist/oncologist, multiple myeloma, John Theurer Cancer Center, discusses using the FDA-approved multiple myeloma drug pomalidomide to treat patients with sickle cell disease.

Richter says sickle cell disease is difficult to manage as there are few therapies available. Hydroxyurea, which increases the levels of fetal hemoglobin to help prevent sickling, is commonly used to treat sickle cell disease. However, Richter says this therapy can lower blood counts and cause other issues.

Pomalidomide, which was approved by the FDA in February 2013 as treatment for relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma, increases the levels of fetal hemoglobin without some of the toxicities associated with hydroxyurea, Richter says. There is currently a phase I study examining the efficacy of pomalidomide in patients with sickle cell disease.

Though further studies are needed, Richter says researchers may be on to a new way of treating patients with sickle cell disease.

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