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 MEMPHIS, Tenn.– Local research helped lead to the announcement Friday that regular blood transfusions can prevent most strokes in children with sickle cell disease.

 Dr. Winfred Wang of the University of Tennessee-Memphis and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital directed the research locally for the international study.

 Wang said the transfusions also helped alleviate other symptoms of the disease in young patients.

 “They don’t get the infections or the pain crises,” Wang said.

Results of the study were announced in Washington, D.C. at a national conference commemorating the 25th anniversary of the National Institutes of Health’s Sickle Cell Disease Program.

 Researchers ended the study 16 months early based on evidence the transfusions could reduce by 90 percent the chance of stroke in young high-risk patients.

 With the announcement the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the NIH issued a clinical alert urging doctors to consider the therapy as a preventative measure in treating children with sickle cell disease.

 Contact: Dr. Winfred Wang (901-495-3509)