Treating Sickle Cell Disease

Treating Sickle Cell Disease

When you are born with the trait of having sickle cells, you may be tempted to use every possible medical method to treat your disease. This is not a wise idea, however. The advantages of having sickle cell disease outweigh the disadvantages. Listed below are some treatments that are available for this condition. These include Gene therapy, Chemotherapy, and Pain medication. In addition, you may also be able to enjoy other health benefits, such as improved quality of life.

Gene therapy

A single dose of gene therapy for sickle cell disease corrected red blood cell shape, eliminating episodes of intense pain. These episodes were the result of rigid crescent-shaped red blood cells blocking blood vessels. These episodes caused widespread damage to various organs and are a common cause of emergency room visits and hospitalization. They can even lead to early death. However, there are ways to manage the disease without resorting to gene therapy.


Currently, the only approved treatment for sickle cell disease is allogeneic stem cell transplant. But gene therapy is gaining momentum as a potential cure. It is a relatively new method, which aims to repair or replace the sickled red blood cells, which cause anemia, fatigue, and pale skin. But it’s not without drawbacks. To make the treatment as effective as possible, it’s crucial to understand the different types of gene therapy.

Pain medication

There are some clear advantages to taking pain medication for patients with sickle cell disease. In addition to allowing patients to take control of their symptoms, it also decreases the risk of complications. Pain is often a major cause of suffering in sickle cell disease. The disease can affect a variety of organs, resulting in a shorter life expectancy. Acute pain is one of the most frequent reasons for a patient to seek treatment. In April 2019, the American Society of Hematology published updated guidelines for the management of acute pain in sickle cell disease. While they leave the specific decisions to the treating physician, they do include ketamine for acute pain and opioid therapy for chronic pain.

Pulmonary hypertension

A recent symposium at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) conference discussed pulmonary hypertension in patients with sickle cell disease. Speakers focused on the role of pulmonary hypertension in sickle cell disease and its management. While ASH members may not have had a diagnosis of the condition, they did receive the correct information about the disease. Using diagnostics and follow-up plans, doctors are able to detect this potentially fatal complication early on.


Despite advances in treatment, stroke still remains one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in patients with sickle cell disease. While stroke rates among children have been dramatically reduced, preventing silent cerebral infarcts remains a major challenge. This article reviews current understanding of large and small vessel disease, current recommendations for primary and secondary prevention, and ongoing research studies that may help to develop new therapies. For more information, please refer to the accompanying publication.


Sickle cell anemia is a disease where red blood cells are abnormally shaped. They cannot change shape easily, and often die within 10 to 20 days, causing anemia. Sickled cells also have a short life span, lasting only 10 to 20 days as opposed to the normal ninety to one hundred and twenty. Sickle cells also cause tiredness. In addition, they can damage the spleen, putting the patient at risk of infections.

Screening for sickle cell disease in pregnancy

Prenatal screening for sickle cell disease may be carried out in primary care during antenatal visits. This test measures the synthesis of radioactively labeled b globulin chains in the mother and fetus. The blood sample is obtained from the umbilical vein, but the test has a 5% fetal mortality risk. Amniocentesis, or sampling of the fetal blood, may also be performed later.

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