Author(s): Rachmilewitz EA, Giardina PJ
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Abstract The purpose of this article is to set forth our approach to diagnosing and managing the thalassemias, including β-thalassemia intermedia and β-thalassemia major. The article begins by briefly describing recent advances in our understanding of the pathophysiology of thalassemia. In the discussion on diagnosing the condition, we cover the development of improved diagnostic tools, including the use of very small fetal DNA samples to detect single point mutations with great reliability for prenatal diagnosis of homozygous thalassemia. In our description of treatment strategies, we focus on how we deal with clinical manifestations and long-term complications using the most effective current treatment methods for β-thalassemia. The discussion of disease management focuses on our use of transfusion therapy and the newly developed oral iron chelators, deferiprone and deferasirox. We also deal with splenectomy and how we manage endocrinopathies and cardiac complications. In addition, we describe our use of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, which has produced cure rates as high as 97\%, and the use of cord blood transplantation. Finally, we briefly touch on therapies that might be effective in the near future, including new fetal hemoglobin inducers and gene therapy.
This article was published in Blood
and referenced in Journal of Molecular Biomarkers & Diagnosis