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Diabetes Drug, Metformin, Suggested as ‘Breakthrough’ Treatment for Sickle Cell Anemia

Metformin, a common drug for Type 2 diabetes, could be used to “turn on” fetal hemoglobin levels in sickle cell anemia patients, according to a study by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers. The study’s lead investigator called the finding a “major breakthrough” in treating the disease.
Sickle cell patients’ adult hemoglobin causes their red blood cells to become sickle-shaped and get stuck inside the blood vessels, leading to pain and other complications. Fetal hemoglobin, a type of hemoglobin present in newborns, does not cause red blood cells to become sickle-shaped, but its production stops at about 6 months old.