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  1. Case Study May Give Parents New Option for Ensuring Children Aren’t Born With Sickle Cell

    January 29, 2018 by Andrea
    case study

    Photo for illustrative purposes only

    There's been a push among sickle cell advocates to #KnowYourGenotype. The thought behind this movement is that if everyone has their blood tested before marrying and having children, there can be a significant reduction in sickle cell births, ultimately leading to an eventual eradication of the disease itself.

    While this is good in theory, human emotions can make things complicated. What if two people who are in love discover that they both carry the trait, for example? The inner conflict and turmoil that must create (and has created over decades), we're sure, is unbearable.

    But what if there was another way -- a better way?

    On January 18, the medical journal JBRA Assisted Reproduction published a recent case study on how in vitro fertilization, embryo selection, and cord blood could be that better option. In this case, a South American couple -- both carriers of sickle cell trait -- went through six cycles of in vitro to produce 53 embryos. As reported by Sickle Cell Anemia News, of the 53 embryos, 15 had normal hemoglobin, 12 had sickle cell, 20 had sickle cell trait, and 6 were undetermined. 

    If the couple was only looking to ensure having a baby without sickle cell or without the trait, they'd have 15 embryos to choose from; however, these parents already had a daughter who was born a sickle cell warrior, so they wanted an embryo to create a baby who's cord blood stem cells were a match for their daughter, and therefore, could be used in treating her. The couple ultimately had a healthy baby boy, and the cord blood transplantation into his sister was successful, presenting a potential new option for parents while reducing the amount of sickle cell births and treating current sickle cell warriors at the same time.

  2. World Cord Blood Day Seeks to Raise Awareness for Sickle Cell and Other Life-Threatening Diseases

    April 10, 2017 by Andrea

    cord blood post

    A new awareness event that will benefit sickle cell disease, among others, is set for November 15, 2017. This event, the first-annual World Cord Blood Day, seeks to educate the public about how stem cells taken from blood in the umbilical cord is a non-controversial method of retrieving and using stem cells to treat dozens of diseases, including SCD.

    According to a recent press release from Save the Cord Foundation, the event's organizers, more than 35,000 cord blood transplants have been done all over the world since 1988 and have treated 80-plus life-threatening diseases -- sickle cell being one of them. Research relating to stem cell transplants of this kind show that the transplants work best when the cells come from a relative (although research relating to donor stem cells is pushing along and has worked in some cases). The thing is, saving cord blood is literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as it must be done at the time of birth. World Cord Blood Day will help make people aware of how important it can be to save and bank this resource. 

    "We are truly excited about this opportunity to expand cord blood education worldwide while providing a platform for discussion focused exclusively on this valuable medical resource," Charis Ober, Executive Director of Save the Cord Foundation, said in the press release.

    So far, partners for this premier event include the Cord Blood Association, Be the Match, the World Marrow Donor Association, the American Association of Blood Banks, and the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy. Participation in the very first World Cord Blood Day is easy: You can sign up to learn about events near you, attend the free virtual conference, and/or join in the discussion on social media using the hashtag #WCBD17.

    Another movement to help raise awareness about sickle cell treatment and other diseases? That's a definite win.

  3. There’s a New Sickle Cell Disease Stem Cell Library in the Works

    January 23, 2017 by Andrea
    Photo: Vegasjon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia Commons

    Photo: Vegasjon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia Commons

    Long before 1910 (the official year of sickle cell discovery in the United States) -- about 5,000 years, in fact -- SCD existed on the African continent. But even after almost 110 years of official recognition, people all over the world continue to die of the disease.

    A new effort to fix this is now happening at Boston Medical Center. There, a team of scientists is planning to develop a stem cell research library -- the largest of its kind -- that will hold blood samples of sickle cell warriors of all ethnic backgrounds, in hopes of making it easier to share advancements in sickle cell treatment and improve upon them.

    The stems cells used are called induced pluripotent stem cells (or iPSCs), which, according to Science Daily, "are cells that can renew indefinitely as undifferentiated cells and later can be directed to grow into any type of tissue or organ." Think of these cells as if they are a master key to the body. Just as master keys can unlock all doors to buildings, iPSCs can "unlock" production codes for all cells and body tissues, enabling the body to heal itself. Since these stem cells are self-renewing and can reproduce in such a way, they will also help develop disease models for testing. These capabilities will help researchers better understand how sickle cell disease works, so that in can be more effectively treated, and possibly cured.

    For more information on this new development, read Science Daily's full article here.

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