Easing Iron Overload & Other Common Complications Of Sickle Cell Disease

BlackDoctor.org: How can people with sickle cell ease their complications?

Dr. Williams: People living with SCD should seek routine health care so that they can be monitored for possible complications. They are encouraged to maintain a healthy lifestyle with appropriate nutrition, exercise and maintaining good hydration. Since negative emotions and stress can also trigger pain episodes in some people with SCD, they should take preventive measures to reduce stress and keep a positive outlook.

BlackDoctor.org: Any new breakthroughs in the field of sickle cell disease?

Dr. Williams: Historically, penicillin prophylaxis; use of transcranial Doppler/MRI to monitor for potential stroke; use of regular/ scheduled blood transfusions and use of hydroxyurea prophylaxis – have all been interventions that have impacted the survival/rate or complications of SCD (at least in select sub-populations). However, the morbidity and mortality from SCD still continue to be high. Currently, there are several compounds in clinical trials for SCD for both acute treatment and prophylaxis. Hopefully, some of them may develop into approved treatments for SCD.

Clinical trial participation is vital to bring new medicine to people in need. More than half of trials in SCD have failed because the developer of the medicine wasn’t able to recruit enough patients to complete the clinical trials to evaluate whether the medicine was safe and effective. In fact, historically, of the terminated trials in SCD, 63 percent were due to failure to meet enrollment targets. Pfizer is currently working to develop treatments for sickle cell disease and its complications. The company has a Phase I program in sickle cell anemia, and is also partnering to develop a potential therapy to address vaso-occlusive crisis, one of the most painful and disruptive symptoms of sickle cell disease, which is now in Phase III clinical testing.

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