Stem cells prove their worth in sickle cell treatments
Medicine has advanced significantly over the years, and researchers are constantly studying how to make treatments more effective. There still aren't universal cures for a number of conditions, including sickle cell disease. According to the North Alabama Sickle Cell Foundation, Inc., 100,000 people in the U.S. have sickle disease, and 2 million people have the sickle cell trait. Fortunately, a number of new methods could improve treatment options and eventually cure sickle cell illnesses.
Anemia targeted by stem cells
Hematopoietic stem cells are believed to be an innovative method to improve treatment of sickle cell anemia and other blood disorders. According to Sickle Cell Anemia News, researchers at New York's Weill Cornell Medicine found that HSCs could be produced and transplanted to replenish blood cell levels throughout a person's life. HSCs are self-renewing and can differentiate into all types of blood cells, making them ideal for replacing dead blood cells in diseases like anemia. This research was also a major breakthrough toward understanding the biology of stem cell self-renewal properties.
Stem cell treatments are becoming more successful in treating sickle cell disease.
Patients already being cured
Stem cells are already having success in curing sickle cell patients and helping them achieve remission. One woman became the first adult cured at a Kansas hospital thanks to donated stem cells. According to The Kansas City Star, transplants can help prolong and transform lives, but this method is often used for those battling high-risk features. Doctors must watch the disease's progress and educate patients regarding the benefits and risks associated with stem cell treatments.
Bone marrow transplants are extremely complex, and patients are monitored well after the procedure. The stem cells might not take, causing major reactions that must be treated. If the transplant goes well, patients stay at the hospital for three weeks and will go to medical appointments up to 100 days after the procedure. This attention is helping give sickle cell patients hope for better options.
Other individuals are achieving remission with experimental gene therapy. A case report published in The New England Journal of Medicine noted that 15 months after treatment, the patient no longer required medication, and his blood cells didn't show sign of the disease. While biological tests seem to indicate the patient is cured, follow-up monitoring and tests will be required to deem him truly cured.
"Stem cell and gene therapy experiments are showing widespread promise for those with severe conditions."
Bright future for sickle cell treatments
Stem cells and gene therapy are relatively lesser known options for treating sickle cell symptoms. While medication is still one of the primary recommendations, stem cell and gene therapy experiments are showing widespread promise for those with severe conditions. Jennifer Yu, MD, of Cleveland Clinic suggested that doctors must consider new guidelines for therapeutic strategies and pain management with sickle cell patients. Frequent reassessments of paint, for example, can help determine if the disease has escalated. Educating patients on their options and treating them appropriately will increase their chance for remission and decrease the time spent in the hospital.