Arginine therapy may be a safe and inexpensive treatment for acute pain episodes in patients with sickle cell disease, according to results of a recent clinical study. The study was the first randomized placebo-controlled study to demonstrate benefits of arginine therapy in children with sickle cell disease hospitalized for severe pain. Sickle cell disease is an inherited condition in which the body makes red blood cells containing abnormal hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen from the lungs to other cells in the body. This abnormal hemoglobin (hemoglobin S) causes red blood cells to distort into a sickle, or crescent shape that often blocks blood flow in small blood vessels, leading to severe pain and organ damage.
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