MRI confirms effectiveness of beta-thalassemia treatment

May 15, 2006

British researchers have used T2* measures of cardiac iron loading to show the value of a new drug treatment for beta-thalassemia, a genetic blood disorder. The laborious clinical trial involved transporting a mobile MRI system three times from London to the Mediterranean island of Sardinia.

British researchers have used T2* measures of cardiac iron loading to show the value of a new drug treatment for beta-thalassemia, a genetic blood disorder. The laborious clinical trial involved transporting a mobile MRI system three times from London to the Mediterranean island of Sardinia.

Researchers found a 40% increase in T2* values, which represents a statistically significant drop in myocardial iron among beta-thalassemia patients who received a combined deferoxamine/deferiprone treatment for 12 months, according to Dr. Mark A. Tanner, a contrast MR researcher at Royal Brompton Hospital in London. T2* increases in the placebo-treated group were much smaller.

The results suggest that combined deferoxamine/deferiprone therapy will reduce the likelihood of cardiac iron loading and the threat of lethal complications, Tanner said.

"I suggest that combined therapy be considered in all patients who fail to achieve adequate iron load status on deferoxamine alone," he said.

This special section was compiled by James Brice, senior editor of Diagnostic Imaging.