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  1. How Blood Substitutes May be the Solution to Donation Blood That’s in Short Supply

    February 22, 2016 by Andrea
    Photo: Filter Forge [CC BY 2.0]

    Photo: Filter Forge [CC BY 2.0]

    If you've ever watched an episode of the HBO series "True Blood," you're familiar with the idea of using synthetic blood to replace real blood. In real life, of course, synthetic blood wouldn't be used as a vampire deterrent, rather it would be used to provide blood transfusions to people who needed it -- like patients with sickle cell -- if actual blood was in short supply. And according to the Association of Donor Recruitment Professionals, the cache of donated blood tends to decrease during the winter months.

    Now, this concept isn't exactly new. In fact, there have been several blood substitutes created and tested over the past few decades; however, there is no blood substitute that is currently approved for use on humans in the U.S. That may all change in the next few years, though. As early as 2017, the Universities of Oxford, Bristol, and Cambridge will run a human clinical trial in which 20 people will given "blood" that has been created in a lab, reports the BBC. If the trial is a success, that will not only open up more options for blood transfusions when the supply is low, but it will also help better treat patients with more hard-to-match blood types, since the synthetic blood will work as O negative.

    Smithsonian magazine clarifies, "Blood substitutes don’t aim to replace real blood, they simply fill one of bloods’ roles: transporting oxygen. Some do this by just mimicking hemoglobin. Others are entirely novel, synthetic oxygen carriers." According to the Pacific Heart, Lung & Blood Institute, other benefits of synthetic blood include:

    1) No immune system reactions
    2) No risk of infectious disease transmission
    3) Longer shelf life -- from one to three years, sans refrigeration
    4) Doesn't infringe on some patients' religious beliefs

    We still have a few years until we find out whether or not a new blood substitute will be approved for human use, but knowing that we're one step closer is a great achievement.

  2. This Sickle Cell Awareness Month, Be The Match

    August 17, 2015 by Andrea

    Photo: CreateHER Stock

    Every September, you show your support for Sickle Cell Awareness Month by entering 5Ks, wearing your red, attending community events, and donating blood. All of these things are wonderful and much-needed; however, if you're looking for a new way to give back, check out Be The Match. As stated on its website, "Be The Match is a global leader in bone marrow transplantation," and many sickle cell warriors need these transplants to save their lives, so that they can receive new bone marrow that will no longer produce sickled red blood cells, but normal ones. 

    Currently, bone marrow transplants are the only cure for SCD -- but they are very hard to come by, especially since finding a good match depends a lot on the ethnic backgrounds of the patients and the donors. In fact, according to Be The Match, 70% of all patient don't have a matched donor in their family. Here's how you can help:

    1) Register for Be The Match.
    To sign up, you must be between the ages of 18 and 44, as this is the age group that is requested by doctors 90% of the time.

    2) Wait to Be Contacted.
    If you turn out to be a potential match, you will be contacted about next steps.

    You can potentially save someone's life. Join now and spread the word.

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  3. 3 Steps to Raising Awareness and Preventing Occurrences of Silent Stroke

    May 4, 2015 by Andrea

    Raising awareness for silent stroke is of the utmost importance. Here are three ways that you can help get the word out.

  4. Research Preview on Improving Nicosan/Xickle

    February 16, 2015 by Andrea
    Photo by U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Roddy Rieger via Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

    Photo by U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Roddy Rieger via Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (Illustrative Purposes Only)

    No sickler should have to suffer. 

    This is why we -- the Xickle team -- are dedicated not only to raising awareness about SCD, but also to developing products that can benefit sickle cell warriors of all ages. Most recently, we've begun our very own clinical trial in order to further our goal of receiving FDA-approval for Xickle RBC-Plus as a treatment for SCD. It may take up to seven years to receive such FDA approval. In the meantime, we are allowed to offer Xickle RBC-Plus as a supplement. We understand that people with SCD are bombarded with information about new drugs and supplements regularly, so to help you understand how Xickle RBC-Plus differs from other products you may have heard about, we'll be breaking things down in more detail below.  

    Basically, Xickle is an improved formulation of Nicosan (Nicosan/Niprisan was approved for the treatment of SCD in Nigeria) and is made up of the extracts from dried plants, one of them being sorghum bicolor leaves. It turns out, certain sorghum extracts have powerful anti-sickling activity.  

    During our research and development, we collected sorghum seeds from 19 countries, studied their germination, growth, and ability to respond to being mixed with different compounds thought to help encourage the anti-sickling property. Those seeds were then planted, harvested monthly, and analyzed. This research resulted in increased potency of the product, as well as advanced methods of standardizing the way the product is made. These strides will allow us to efficiently mass produce Xickle. This research is a big step forward in helping us reach our FDA-approval goals.

    Read this and this, too, for even more information on our research and tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

  5. Xickle RBC-Plus: The Next Generation of Niprisan

    January 19, 2015 by Andrea

    Remember Niprisan, the drug that was approved for the treatment of sickle cell in Nigeria? See the results from the Niprisan clinical trial in the graph below. Well, Xickle RBC-Plus is the new generation of Niprisan. Currently sold in its supplement form, Xickle RBC-Plus has shown that it can help prevent the red blood cells of sickle cell patients from sickling. Clinical trials are currently underway.

    Niprasan vs Control

    Before preparing for our human clinical trials, we tested Xickle RBC-Plus on mice with human sickle cell disease. The mice that were given Xickle RBC-Plus lived longer, healthier lives than the mice who were not given the supplement. Take a look at the photo below to see just how our supplement helped maintain the shape of the red blood cells in the treated mice.

    Mice RBCs

    This next image, shows the same supplement at work of the blood from a person with sickle cell disease. The cells on the left were taken from a sickle cell patient and put under low oxygen conditions, as expected, they sickled. The cells on the right were also drawn from a sickle cell patient and subjected to low oxygen conditions, but this time, Xickle RBC-Plus was added to the blood. As you can see, it helped keep them from becoming sickled.


    In the next few weeks and months, we'll be presenting you with more updates about our clinical trial and its progress. Meanwhile, stay up to date by following us on Facebook and Twitter. Have any questions? Comment below or Tweet us @XickleRBC!

  6. Big News: Clinical Trials Starting Soon!

    January 12, 2015 by Andrea

    clinical trial post pic

    We've got some really big news coming over the next several weeks and months -- Xickle will be making major moves in 2015! Here's a sneak peek of what's coming: 

    For the past couple of years, we've been working toward not only raising awareness for sickle cell, but also developing Xickle RBC-Plus as an FDA-approved product and getting it ready for clinical trials. Currently, Xickle RBC-Plus is only sold as an all-natural supplement, but over the course of the next few months, we'll begin posting updates about the start of our clinical trial, as well as its progress. 

    During the trials, participants will be given specified doses of  the "drug equivalent"  of Xickle RBC-Plus. After a determined amount of time taking the drug -- and at certain intervals throughout the process -- blood will be drawn from each participant. Once drawn, that blood will then be purposefully placed under hypoxic (low oxygen) conditions to see how the red blood cells react. If the cells do not sickle, that will show that, indeed, the drug is working and the effects can now be precisely measured. 

    The FDA drug approval process will take 4-6 years. However, the FDA still allows us to sell Xickle RBC-Plus as a supplement with structure functions claims, but without medical claims. And we can do a lot of good during those 4-6 years. We already have many customers across the world using Xickle RBC-Plus in its supplement form and they are having positive results -- check out a few of their testimonials

    Thank you all for your continued support! And remember, follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates! Happy New Year! 

  7. New Year’s Resolutions Every Sickle Cell Warrior Should Make

    December 26, 2014 by Andrea
    © Nevit Dilmen [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

    © Nevit Dilmen [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

    1. Stop Stressin'

    If only it were that easy, right? We know it's virtually impossible to completely eradicate stress from your life; however, there are things you can do to reduce stress and lessen its impact. Try taking up yoga, meditation, and of course, get plenty of rest each night. 

    2. Drink More Tea
    Not only does tea help keep you hydrated, which in turn can help with blood flow and crisis prevention, but tea also has other known benefits. Tea -- especially green tea -- contains antioxidants, which assist in the prevention of cell damage. Just be sure not to load your tea with too much sugar, as that might inhibit the tea's naturally healthy effects. If you do prefer a sweetener to your tea, honey would be a better option. 

    3. Think Lovely Thoughts
    Choosing to focus your energies on positive thinking, rather than worst-case scenarios all the time, can help you face each day with the hope and fortitude you need to surmount any challenge that may arise. Having an overall positive outlook on life can also help you cope with stress well. Check out this site for even more tips on increasing positivity in your life. 

    4. Get Your Diet in Check
    For anyone, eating well is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Even more importantly for those living with sickle cell disease, eating well can be the first defense against triggering a painful crisis. Load up your diet with foods that are rich in iron, copper, and vitamin B12 to ensure that your body is receiving the nutrients it needs to function at its best. 

    What are your resolutions for 2015? Share them in the comments below! 

  8. Sickle Cell Trait Needs More Awareness, Too (Part 1)

    November 26, 2014 by Andrea


    We all know about the intense, debilitating pain associated with sickle cell disease crises, as well as the other effects SCD has on its warriors. However, while the general consensus is that the sickle cell trait is harmless, carriers are also at risk for certain complications.  According to a 2009 article in The American Journal of Medicine, entitled "Complications Associated with Sickle Cell Trait: A Brief Narrative Review," it states "Although largely a protective carrier state, sickle cell trait is associated with rare but fatal renal medullary cancer, exercise-related deaths, splenic infarction [when oxygen supply to the spleen is cut off], hematura, hyposthenuria, venous thromoembolism [blood clot], complicated hyphema [blood in front of the eye], and fetal loss." 

    In this first part of our sickle cell trait mini-series, we'll be exploring how people with the trait are at a higher risk for kidney disease -- especially within the African-American community.

    As reported by Reuters Health, African Americans who carry the sickle cell trait are 60 percent more likely than those without the trait to suffer from kidney disease. “The theory is that under very highly stressful situations (such as a low oxygen levels) . . . there may be some localized sickling that happens in the kidney that is leading to functional impairment,” Dr. Rakhi Naik, the head of this research, told Reuters. 

    While chronic kidney disease and end stage renal disease tend to be found in older adults with the sickle cell trait, other kidney-related complications can strike earlier. Just ask 23-year-old Shawniece Wilmore. After experiencing lower back pain for six weeks or so, she went to the doctor only to find out that she has renal medullary carcinoma. "Renal medullary carcinoma is a rare, aggressive tumor of the kidney that is seen almost exclusively in young individuals with sickle cell trait."* Only three patients have been known to survive this type of cancer, with the longest survival time being recorded as eight years. 

    Other kidney-related complications that may arise in those with sickle cell trait are*:

    1) Hematuria. The most common complication for those with sickle cell trait, hematuria is the occurrence of blood in the urine. 
    2) Hyposthenuria. This happens when the kidneys become unable to produce concentrated urine. 
    3) Renal papillary necrosis. This is a kidney disorder in which all or part of the tissues around the collecting ducts die.

    With 1 in 12 African Americans carrying the sickle cell trait, it's important to also raise awareness about its potential complications, in conjunction with raising awareness for sickle cell disease. 

    Next week, we'll be discussing Part 2 of our sickle cell trait mini-series: sickle cell trait and the risks to athletes and military recruits. Be sure to check back for that post, as well.


    Are you a carrier? Have you experienced any complications? Share your story in the comments below!  

    *2009, The American Journal of Medicine: "Complications Associated with Sickle Cell Trait: A Brief Narrative Review"

  9. 3 Ways to Prevent a Crisis in the Colder Months

    October 15, 2014 by Andrea


    When you live with SCD, the fall and winter months bring more to mind than pumpkin spice lattes and Turkey Trots. You have to think about the increased risk of crises due to the change in weather. 

    According to a study led by the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in 2010, "the debilitating pain experienced by people with sickle-cell disease becomes more intense when temperatures drop in the fall and winter months," reports VCU News. Why is this? When your body becomes cold, your muscles tend to use more oxygen in order to try and keep your body warm. As a result, this lessens the amount of oxygen in your red blood cells. Cold temperatures also cause blood flow to slow down, which can cause sickled cells to get stuck, back up the flow, and prompt pain. 

    Here are 3 ways to prevent a crisis in the colder months: 

    1) Layer up. Obviously, everyone should dress warmly when it's cold outside; however, this is especially important for people with sickle cell. As a crisis can be sparked with extreme cold or extreme heat, dressing warmly by layering your clothing is your best bet. This way, you'll help your body stay warm, which helps keep your blood flowing normally, and, if you start to get too hot while inside, you can simply remove the very top layers. 

    2) Stay hydrated. Yes, it's possible to become dehydrated in the fall and winter, as well, and dehydration can cause cells to sickle. Even if you don't feel thirsty, you still need to make sure you're taking in plenty of fluids -- water, hot chocolate, tea, juices, soups, etc. Even eating fruits, such as apples, cranberries,blueberries, plums, and bananas -- which are high in water content -- can help keep you hydrated. 

    3) Avoid being outside for long periods of time. You can still enjoy the crisp, autumn air or play in the snow for a few minutes, but be sure to dress appropriately when in the outdoors and not subject yourself to any extreme cold. When planning winter vacations, choose a place with a warmer climate or a place that has access to indoor heating, if the weather outside is a bit frigid. This way, the entire family can still enjoy all four seasons -- safely. 

    How do you prevent a crisis from occurring during the fall and winter? Tell us in the comments below!

  10. 5 Ways to Improve Red Blood Cell Health, Structure, and Function

    April 2, 2014 by Andrea

    RBC_micrograph resized


    In addition to your doctor-approved treatment regimen, there are other ways to ensure that you maintain healthy red blood cells (RBCs). Read on to discover a few simple tips that can help keep your RBCs flowing as smoothly as possible and prevent your cells from sickling.

    1. Eat Well. Keeping your body as healthy as it can be is your first defense against painful crises associated with sickle-cell disease. Eating foods that are rich in iron, copper, and vitamin B12, to name a few, can also help ensure that you are taking in the necessary nutrients your body needs to function optimally. 

    2. Stay Hydrated. Allowing a lapse in your water intake can lead to dehydration, which can cause your blood flow to slow and can trigger painful crises. According to the CDC, drinking plenty of water helps open up your veins, allowing sickle-shaped cells to flow through them more easily. Be sure to always carry water with you -- or have access to it at all times -- so that, no matter what you're doing, you're consciously taking the necessary steps to provide your cells (and your entire body) with the appropriate amount of fluids.

    3. Get Fit... but Don't Overdo It. Paired with healthy eating and drinking habits, moderate exercise can also help keep your body in shape and your red blood cells flowing more easily -- as long as you stay hydrated, take breaks, and don't push yourself too hard. It's not recommended that people with sickle cell participate in strenuous workouts; however, taking walks and engaging in other low-impact routines, such as Pilates and yoga can be good for your overall wellness.

    4. Break Bad Habits. We're not talking about nail biting and binging on reality TV, we mean habits like smoking and over-indulging in alcohol. Think about it: When you breathe in the smoke of cigarettes, cigars, etc., you're inhaling a mix of carbon monoxide, tar, and other poisonous gasses and chemicals, which greatly restrict the amount of oxygen getting to your lungs -- and with sickle cell, your body already has a lower level of oxygen than the average person. When it comes to alcoholic beverages, enjoying too many can lead to dehydration, which can further inhibit the flow of your RBCs, thus leading to severe pain.

    5. Prevent Cell Sickling. In addition to all of the above, daily doses of Xickle® RBC-Plus can also be added to your wellness regimen. A mix of sorghum, clove, and pepper extracts, this all-natural supplement can actually help prevent cell sickling. Xickle® RBC-Plus is a vastly improved version of Niprisan® / Nicosan®, which was approved for the treatment of sickle-cell disease in Nigeria, based on its proven effectiveness in clinical trials.


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