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Investigating Hydroxyurea’s Effects on Pregnancy in Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) presents a significant global health challenge, particularly affecting individuals of Black ancestry. Pregnant individuals with SCD face heightened risks, including elevated maternal mortality rates and increased incidences of complications like preterm birth and intrauterine growth restriction. Addressing these challenges is crucial, especially given the substantial financial burden on healthcare systems.

While blood transfusions are the primary treatment during pregnancy, they pose risks and logistical challenges. Hydroxyurea, a medication with proven benefits for SCD management, is often discontinued during pregnancy due to concerns about fetal safety. However, existing data on its impact during pregnancy are limited.

Our research aims to bridge this knowledge gap by investigating how hydroxyurea affects pregnant mice with SCD. By administering doses similar to those used in human treatment, we seek to assess its impact on maternal health and offspring outcomes.

The insights gained from this study could have profound implications for clinical practice. If hydroxyurea proves safe and effective in our mouse model, it could revolutionize prenatal care for individuals with SCD. Maintaining hydroxyurea therapy during pregnancy could mitigate risks for both mother and baby, reducing complications and improving outcomes. Furthermore, this research has broader implications, particularly in regions where access to blood transfusions is limited. By offering an alternative treatment option, we could alleviate strain on healthcare systems and improve the quality of care for pregnant individuals with SCD worldwide.


  1. Assess Maternal Benefits: Determine the potential benefits of hydroxyurea for improving maternal health outcomes in pregnancies affected by Sickle Cell Disease.
  2. Evaluate Fetal Safety: Investigate the effects of hydroxyurea on fetal development and pregnancy outcomes in a mouse model to ensure the treatment is safe for the fetus.
  3. Analyze Hematological Changes: Examine the hematological parameters in pregnant mice treated with hydroxyurea to understand its impact on blood health.
  4. Study Mechanisms of Action: Identify and characterize the molecular and physiological mechanisms by which hydroxyurea affects both maternal and fetal health in the context of SCD during pregnancy.
Project status: Starting

Principal Investigator



Funding Body: Wellbeing of Women

Amount: £30,000

Period: June 2024 - May 2027

Funding Body: Fetal Medicine Foundation

Amount: 3 year PhD student award including university fees, salary plus £60,000 bench fees

Period: October 2024 - September 2027