November 30, 2010: This Fortnight in SC News and Research

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Dr. Jeffrey Taubenberger of the National Institutes of Health has found the earliest known proof of sickle-cell anemia. The tissue sample was taken from a soldier in 1918 who was in full blown crises even though he only had the sickle cell trait and not the disease. The soldier had pneumonia, which lead to a crisis and then death. This establishes what we have already known; sickle cell trait carriers do exhibit some qualities of sickle cell disease but just not in the same intensity. This also supports the new NCAA screening guidelines for athletes with sickle cell trait, because it proves that they are prone to crises just like we are. It is an amazing article, and I suggest you check it out. To hear the radio interview, click HERE.

In research, the new sickle cell drug AES-103 is one step closer to being available for sickle cell patients. The company, AES-Rx filed paperwork in August with the FDA to move on to the next phase of human trials and is now in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health in developing the clinical trials. Read more about the partnership HERE. The drug, which is still being kept under wraps, is said to reduce sickling. One step closer…

There is a new drug on the scene. Sangart Inc., has just been granted orphan drug status by the FDA this week for their new drug MP4CO which is designed to deliver therapeutic levels of carbon monoxide (CO) to patients suffering from a sickle cell crisis. CO stabilizes hemoglobin S, an abnormal type of hemoglobin, and prevents sickling of red blood cells. Sounds interesting

In  India, at the 4th International Sickle Cell Congress, it was purported that the number of sickle cell patients in the world, is increasing due to lack of knowledge and awareness about the disease. About 15-18% of all people in India have sickle cell disease, and this number is rapidly increasing. Due to lack of education and medical facilities, many of these patients die young. The conference suggests an increase in funding to areas affected most by sickle cell to raise awareness and provide medical support for SCD patients. Read more about the conference HERE.

Great news for the sickle cell warriors in Ghana! This week, construction has started on a new Blood and Sickle Cell Center. WOOHOO!

The Minister of Health, on Thursday performed the ceremony for the construction of a 13.66 million-dollar Blood and Sickle Cell Centre at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH).

The three-storey building complex would be implemented in phases under a Brazilian Government’s grant. It is expected to be completed in two years and would have a Blood Transfusion Unit, Out-patient Sickle Cell Clinic, Research and Training Centre that would undertake blood collection, modern processing and determine the specific blood product needs of hospitals. The project comes as a big relief to sickle cell patients, who would now be assured of quality care. The present sickle cell clinic at the facility serves more than 11,000 patients. Read more about the new SC Center HERE.

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