Doctors at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria in partnership with the University of Illinois in Chicago have discovered a permanent cure for Sickle Cell Anemia.
Professor of Medicine Victor Gordeuk, director of the Sickle Cell Center at the University of Illinois in Chicago, and his colleagues, Prof. Damiano Rondelli and Prof. Bamidele Tayo (University of Loyola, Chicago), claim the cure is bone marrow transplant.
(In conjunction with) Chief Medical Director Prof. Temitope Alonge; hematologist Dr. Titilola Akingbola, and Dr. Foluke Fasola of Nigeria’s University College Hospital, they explained:
“About 90 per cent of the approximately 450 patients who have received stem cell transplants for sickle cell disease have been children. Chemotherapy has been considered too risky for adult patients, who are often more weakened than children by the disease.
“Adults with sickle cell disease can now be cured without chemotherapy — the main barrier that has stood in the way for them for so long. Our data provide more support that this therapy is safe and effective and prevents patients from living shortened lives, condemned to pain and progressive complications.
“In the new procedure, patients receive immuno-suppressive drugs just before the transplant, along with a very low dose of total body irradiation, a treatment much less harsh and with fewer potentially serious side effects than chemotherapy.
“Donor cells from a healthy and tissue-matched sibling are transfused into the patient. Stem cells from the donor produce healthy new blood cells in the patient, eventually in sufficient quantity to eliminate symptoms. In many cases, sickle cells can no longer be detected. Patients must continue to take immunosuppressant drugs for at least a year.
“With this chemotherapy-free transplant, we are curing adults with sickle cell disease, and we see that their quality of life improves fast within just one month of the transplant.”
Sickle Cell Anemia is a severe form of hereditary anemia in which a mutated form of hemoglobin distorts the red blood cells into a crescent shape. It affects more than five million Nigerians and 1 in 5,000 Americans, mostly those of Sub-Saharan African descent. The Sickle cell trait occurs among about 1 in 12 African-Americans and 1 in 100 Hispanic-Americans. It is estimated that 2.5 million Americans are carriers of the trait.
Symptoms include low energy, dehydration, jaundice, sudden attacks of severe pain, and premature formation of gallstones. Until now, stem cell transplantation has been the only cure, but most patients are either too old or don’t have a relative who is a good enough genetic match for them to act as a donor.