Monday, February 20, 2012

Guest Blog by Jenna Walters

I believe in supporting people who want to advocate for sickle cell disease awareness and education.

Jenna Walters wrote the following blog,"Experimental Treatments for Sickle Cell Anemia" and I support her efforts to participate in this important work.

"Sickle cell anemia is an inherited disorder where the usually round red blood cells become sickle shaped. This causes blockages in the capillaries which leads to episodes, called “crises,” of severe pain in the joints, abdomen, chest and back. The disorder affects mostly people of African descent. Over the years experimental treatments have been used to help ease the symptoms of sickle cell anemia. They include:

Nitric Oxide TherapyInhaled nitric oxide is used to help capillaries to dilate, or open up. This lets the blood flow more easily because it keeps the sickled blood cells from sticking together and forming clots, which can lead to sickle cell crises.

Stem Cell Transplants
Stem cells are cells that can turn into any sort of cell in the body, including blood cells. This sort of stem cell transplant is basically a bone marrow transplant. A donor is found for the patient and their own bone marrow is destroyed through courses of chemotherapy or radiation. The donor’s stem cells are then intravenously fed into the patient in the hopes that they’ll create new, healthy red blood cells. This procedure is usually done on people whose sickle cell anemia has become unmanageable, because it's frankly risky. The patient’s body can reject the donor's cells, which will lead to complications.

Gene Therapy
Gene Therapy is now being explored for diseases ranging from sickle cell to peritoneal mesothelioma. Medical researchers now believe it may be possible to replace a patient’s defective sickle cell gene with healthy genes. They can do this by putting the healthy gene into the bone marrow of the patient. They can also find a way to “switch off” the sickle cell gene while turning on a gene that causes the production of fetal hemoglobin, which would stop the blood cells from sickling. Researchers are also looking for drugs that can support the production of fetal hemoglobin. One of the drugs now under study is Vorinostat.

Possible Clinical Trials - MP4CO therapy
Some researchers believe that combining the drug MP4CO with more traditional therapies can dilate the blood vessels and get oxygen quickly into the cells. This can either stop or shorten the length of a sickle cell crisis."

Possible Upcoming MP4CO Clinical Trials

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