Hydroxyurea to Prevent Brain Injury in Sickle Cell Disease "HUPrevent"


Phase 2 Results N/A

Trial Description

This is a pilot study of hydroxyurea versus placebo to reduce central nervous system complications (abnormally fast blood flow to the brain, silent cerebral infarct or stroke) in young children with sickle cell disease. The investigators plan to identify children 12 to 48 months old without central nervous system complications and randomly assign 20 to treatment with hydroxyurea and 20 to treatment with placebo for 36 months. Neither the study doctors nor the participants will know which treatment they are receiving.

Detailed Description

Stroke, silent cerebral infarct (SCI), and cognitive impairment are frequent and highly morbid complications of sickle cell disease (SCD) in children. Current approaches to the prevention and treatment of neurological complications in SCD include screening by transcranial Doppler ultrasound (TCD) to identify children with elevated cerebral blood flow velocity who are at increased risk for strokes; these children are then typically treated with chronic transfusions indefinitely. Hydroxyurea (HU) may have beneficial effects on central nervous system (CNS) complications in SCD and reduces the frequency of painful crisis, acute chest syndrome and transfusion. The safety of HU in infants and children has been suggested in a National Institutes of Health (NIH) sponsored phase III trial; however, the exact indications for the use of HU in children remain unclear, as well as its efficacy in preventing central nervous system (CNS) complications of SCD. Our preliminary data suggest that, if the cumulative frequency of abnormal TCD, SCI and stroke could be reduced by 50%, the majority of pediatric hematologists would prescribe HU to all young children with SCD. The long term goal of this project is to perform a primary prevention trial to demonstrate the neuroprotective effect of HU and broaden the indications for HU in children. The goals of this proposal are to: 1) conduct an internal pilot randomized placebo-controlled trial of HU to reduce the CNS complications of SCD (the term internal pilot is used, as the results from the participants in the pilot will be analyzed as part of a definitive phase III trial to follow); 2) demonstrate the safety of hydroxyurea and study procedures in young children with SCD; and 3) create the leadership, network of clinical centers and other procedures necessary to conduct a definitive phase III trial demonstrating the efficacy of HU for primary prevention of the neurological complications of SCD.
The primary endpoint for the internal pilot and definitive phase III trials will be the development of abnormal TCD, SCI, TIA or stroke. To begin the internal pilot trial, the investigators obtained Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) support at Johns Hopkins and Washington University; these sites will screen 40 participants 9-48 months of age and randomly assign and follow 20 participants for three years. Four additional centers (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Vanderbilt University,Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati and the University of Alabama, Birmingham) began enrollment (up to 20 patients screened and 10 participants randomly assigned per site), to provide a total of 80 participants screened, 40 randomly assigned, and a minimum of 70 participant years of follow-up. Additional sites have been added. Participants must have TCD measurements that are well below transfusion thresholds and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain without evidence of SCI. Participants in the internal pilot will continue into a phase III trial, to complete 3 years on HU or placebo. The information from the internal pilot trial will be used to improve the design of the definitive phase III trial. The results of these studies could lead to true primary prevention of CNS complications of SCD, including abnormal TCD, SCI, neurocognitive impairment and stroke. In doing so, this study could also reduce the burden of chronic transfusions and change clinical practice by broadening the indications for HU.



  • Placebo Drug
    Intervention Desc: Sucrose solution 0.2 ml/kg/day by mouth once a day with blinded dose escalation of 0.05 ml/kg/day to match the frequency of dose escalation in the hydroxyurea arm.
    ARM 1: Kind: Experimental
    Label: Placebo
    Description: Sucrose placebo
  • Hydroxyurea (Hydrea┬« and Droxia┬« Other names Return to top Hydroxycarbamide )Drug
    Other Names: Droxia; Hydrea; Mylocel
    Intervention Desc: Hydroxyurea solution 100 mg/ml with a starting dose of 20 mg/kg/day by mouth once daily and escalation by 5 mg/kg/day every 8 weeks until hematological toxicity, an absolute neutrophil count of 2000 to 4000/ul, or a maximum dose of 35 mg/kg/day.
    ARM 1: Kind: Experimental
    Label: Hydroxyurea

Trial Design

  • Allocation: Randomized
  • Masking: Double Blind (Subject, Caregiver, Investigator)
  • Purpose: Prevention
  • Endpoint: Safety/Efficacy Study
  • Intervention: Parallel Assignment


Type Measure Time Frame Safety Issue
Primary Central Nervous System Complications 3 years No
Secondary Proportion of participants with severe adverse events attributed to study procedures 3 years Yes
Secondary Proportion of participants undergoing randomization 6 months No