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Global Blood Therapeutics said Monday that an experimental treatment for sickle cell disease nearly doubled the production of oxygen-carrying hemoglobin compared to its currently approved medicine — a result that is preliminary but could lead to better outcomes for patients with the inherited blood disorder.

In a small, pilot study of six patients, the Global Blood drug called GBT-601 improved hemoglobin levels by an average of 2.3 grams per deciliter compared to baseline. The best responses were seen in two patients with hemoglobin increases of 3.1 grams per deciliter. Hemoglobin in the worst-performing patient rose 1.1 grams per deciliter.

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