Hydroxyurea is a medication that is currently used to treat chronic pain in sickle cell individuals. It increases the amount of fetal hemoglobin (hemoglobin that is resistant to sickling) in the blood. Hydroxyurea was found to reduce the frequency of severe pain, acute chest syndrome and the need for blood transfusions in adult individuals with sickle cell. Although the Food Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug for use in adults in 1998, it can be toxic to the bone marrow and may cause very serious complications such as leukemia. For some, however, the benefits outweigh the danger. Its effectiveness varies. Studies are being conducted to determine the proper dosage for children.
Bone marrow and stem cell transplants are currently researched and performed with much caution. Though there has been significant progress in the success for these, there are still many areas of uncertainty. It is hoped that, with further research, the future will hold more promise in these areas.