Sickle cell disease and malaria are two common RBC diseases that affect a significant portion of the U.S. and global populations. Sickle cell disease (SCD), a genetic blood disorder that causes deformed and dysfunctional red blood cells, affects an estimated 70,000 to 100,000 Americans(1), while malaria affects approximately 1,500 Americans annually and 190 to 311 million people worldwide(2). The red blood cells in sickle cell disease become rigid and form in a crescent "sickle" shape, which causes them to clump and become embedded in the blood vessels of organs, resulting in pain, infection, potential organ damage, and even death. Research will be presented today at the 52nd Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology that highlights studies on transfusion therapy alternatives and genetic predictors for sickle cell-related stroke in children, the use of hydroxyurea therapy to reduce mortality in pediatric SCD patients, and a potential breakthrough that may inhibit the transmission of malaria-causing viruses.
"Research that looks for innovative ways to predict stroke risk and provides evidence for effective intervention for children affected with sickle cell disease will always be important, as this disease affects a significant number of children," said Alexis Thompson, MD, MPH, moderator of the press conference, Director of Hematology Services at Children's Memorial Hospital, and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago. "Furthermore, it is very exciting to know that we are closing in on the day when we will be able to control the transmission of malaria."