BREAKING: How HIV Is Being Used To ‘Cure’ Sickle Cell Disease
60 Minutes recently reported on a gene therapy trial that may be a cure for patients living with the bone-crushing pain of sickle cell disease. Gene therapy locates and fixes the genes responsible for different diseases.
Pain from sickle cell can occur anywhere blood circulates. That’s because red blood cells, normally round-shaped, bend into an inflexible sickle shape, causing them to pile up inside blood vessels. The resulting traffic jam prevents the normal delivery of oxygen throughout the body, leading to problems that include bone deterioration, strokes and organ failure.
The gene that causes sickle cell anemia evolved in places like sub-Saharan Africa because it protects people from malaria. There, millions have the disease, and it’s estimated more than 50 percent of babies born with it die before the age of five.