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Statins Show Promise Against Sickle Cell

The cholesterol drugs might reduce risk of infection, researchers find

TUESDAY, Jan. 19 (HealthDay News) -- The cholesterol drugs known as statins hold promise as a treatment for sickle cell disease, a common genetic disorder, new research has found.

The findings, published Jan. 19 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, are based on experiments with mice, so it's not clear if humans with the disease will benefit from treatment with statins.

Researchers at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., found that among mice with a type of sickle cell disease, those that were treated with statins lived much longer after being infected with pneumococcal bacteria than those who didn't get the treatment.

The cholesterol drugs appeared to stop cells from being killed by bacterial toxins and reduced the risk that germs would invade the blood system, according to the report.

Children with sickle cell disease face a serious threat from pneumococcal bacteria, and the researchers think preventive treatment with statins may reduce their risk of infection.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more on sickle cell disease.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Investigation, news release, Jan. 19, 2010

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