Patients who require numerous transfusions may experience hemosiderosis. Each milliliter of packed RBCs the patient receives contains about 1 mg of iron that may be deposited in tissues, eventually resulting in abnormal organ function. Patients with aplastic anemia, pure RBC aplasia, and thalassemia major require long-term RBC support and may receive several hundred transfusions.
For patients with thalassemia major, the problem is compounded by a tendency to overabsorb iron. The propensity for iron deposition in the liver, the pancreas, and, particularly, the heart is a notable limiting factor in their survival. Despite the use of iron chelators such as deferoxamine to achieve iron balance, transfusion-induced hemosiderosis remains a threat.
Based on earlier work dealing with RBC aging, Sergio Piomelli, MD (New York University School of Medicine), and Laurence Corash, MD (National Institutes of Health [NIH]), hypothesized that the use of young RBCs (neocytes) would support patients with chronic anemia while