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Sickle cell disease features prominently at this year’s virtual meeting of the European Hematology Association, which kicks off Friday. The 32 research abstracts being presented are highlighted by early-stage studies of experimental drugs that target the inherited blood disorder in new ways.

One of those new sickle cell drugs is called IMR-687, developed by Imara, a small biotech based in Boston. IMR-687 is a pill with the potential to boost levels of fetal hemoglobin — the healthy, oxygen-carrying form of hemoglobin that is produced during fetal development but normally shuts down soon after birth. Higher levels of fetal hemoglobin in people with sickle cell disease is associated with reduced symptoms and improved outcomes.

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