23 Dec Patients With Sickle Cell Disease Could Find Hope Through Stem Cell Therapy
Sickle cell disease is a condition that affects the shape of red blood cells. It can make these cells misshapen and damage their ability to carry oxygen to other organs of the body. Stem cell therapy is currently the only method known to help patients who have sickle cell disease.
What is Sickle Cell Disease?
Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders. If you have SCD, there is a problem with your hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body. With SCD, the hemoglobin forms into stiff rods within the red blood cells. This changes the shape of the red blood cells. The cells are supposed to be disc-shaped, but this changes them into a crescent, or sickle, shape. The sickle-shaped cells are not flexible and cannot change shape easily. Many of them burst apart as they move through your blood vessels. The sickle cells usually only last 10 to 20 days, instead of the normal 90 to 120 days. Your body may have trouble making enough new cells to replace the ones that you lost. Because of this, you may not have enough red blood cells. This is a condition called anemia, and it can make you feel fatigued. The sickle-shaped cells can also stick to vessel walls, causing a blockage that slows or stops the flow of blood. When this happens, oxygen can’t reach nearby tissues. The lack of oxygen can cause attacks of sudden, severe pain, called pain crises. These attacks can occur without warning. If you get one, you might need to go to the hospital for treatment. The cause of SCD is a defective gene, called a sickle cell gene. People with the disease are born with two sickle cell genes, one from each parent. If you are born with one sickle cell gene, it’s called sickle cell trait. People with sickle cell trait are generally healthy, but they can pass the defective gene on to their children.
In the United States, most of the people with SCD are African Americans. SCD also affects some people who come from Hispanic, southern European, Middle Eastern, or Asian Indian backgrounds. The symptoms of sickle cell disease can start as early as five months of age but generally occur by the first year of life. Symptoms can include jaundice around the eyes, swelling of the hands and feet, and fatigue in young children. The effects of SCD vary from person to person and can change over time. Most of the signs and symptoms of SCD are related to complications of the disease. They may include severe pain, anemia, organ damage, and constant infections.
How Can Stem Cell Therapy Help Patients With Sickle Cell Disease?
Stem cell therapy is a procedure known to help patients who are suffering from the effects of sickle cell disease. Healthy bone marrow-derived stem cells are transplanted into the diseased bone marrow of a patient with SDC. These new and healthy stem cells will continue to regenerate until they have completely replaced the diseased cells.