Hemoglobin (Hb) disorders are common, potentially lethal monogenic diseases, posing a global health challenge. With worldwide migration and intermixing of carriers, demanding flexible health planning and patient care, hemoglobinopathies may serve as a paradigm for the use of electronic infrastructure tools in the collection of data, the dissemination of knowledge, the harmonization of treatment, and the coordination of research and preventive programs. ITHANET, a network covering thalassemias and other hemoglobinopathies, comprises 26 organizations from 16 countries, including non-European countries of origin for these diseases (Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Tunisia and Turkey). Using electronic infrastructure tools, ITHANET aims to strengthen cross-border communication and data transfer, cooperative research and treatment of thalassemia, and to improve support and information of those affected by hemoglobinopathies. Moreover, the consortium has established the ITHANET Portal, a novel web-based instrument for the dissemination of information on hemoglobinopathies to researchers, clinicians and patients. The ITHANET Portal is a growing public resource, providing forums for discussion and research coordination, and giving access to courses and databases organized by ITHANET partners. Already a popular repository for diagnostic protocols and news related to hemoglobinopathies, the ITHANET Portal also provides a searchable, extendable database of thalassemia mutations and associated background information. The experience of ITHANET is exemplary for a consortium bringing together disparate organizations from heterogeneous partner countries to face a common health challenge. The ITHANET Portal as a web-based tool born out of this experience amends some of the problems encountered and facilitates education and international exchange of data and expertise for hemoglobinopathies.

Community networks, Database, Hemoglobinopathies, International cooperation, Thalassemia
dx.doi.org/10.1080/03630260903089177, hdl.handle.net/1765/16973
Hemoglobin: international journal for hemoglobin research
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Lederer, C.W, Basak, A.N, Aydinok, Y, Christou, S, El-Beshlawy, A, Eleftheriou, A, … Kleanthous, M. (2009). An electronic infrastructure for research and treatment of the thalassemias and other hemoglobinopathies: The Euro-Mediterranean ITHANET project. Hemoglobin: international journal for hemoglobin research, 33(3-4), 163–176. doi:10.1080/03630260903089177