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Thalidomide-like drug treats blood disorder

From San Diego, at a meeting of the American Society of Hematology

A novel drug appears to help people with myelodysplasia, a persistent condition that leaves them short of crucial blood components. The drug could become the first treatment specifically for the condition, says Alan List of the University of South Florida in Tampa.

In people with myelodysplasia, underproductive bone marrow fails to produce enough platelets and blood cells. The resulting syndrome features excess bleeding, anemia, and infections and may lead to a severe form of leukemia.

The drug thalidomide can sometimes increase red-cell numbers in myelodysplasia, but the treatment reduces white cells and causes neurological side effects. Because thalidomide and other treatments are often ineffective, many people with the syndrome need frequent transfusions of blood products and die early.

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