University of Minnesota Researchers Work Towards New Treatments for Sickle Cell Patients

Sickle cell disease is a medical condition resulting in variations in the oxygen-carrying proteins in the blood, specifically changing the shape of the protein into an oblong and crescent sickle shape. This shape can lead to circulation problems, inflammation, pain, and clotting because the abnormal cells’ shape will get caught on one another and clump together. According to the CDC, sickle cell disease affects millions of people worldwide with 1 in every 13 Black Americans having some sickle cell traits and 1 in every 365 having the disease. Even with the commonality of the disease, the pain and symptoms are often hard to treat for patients of all ages, though new research has been coming out emphasizing holistic care as a way to reduce the struggles sickle cell patients face. Research suggests lifestyle factors such as diet changes, companionship through interpersonal interaction, and antidepressants could help to alleviate some of the struggles patients face. 

In this article, doctors Karim Sadak, MD, MPH, MSE, and Alexander Boucher, MD, Assistant Professors in the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at the University of Minnesota discuss working with and treating patients with sickle cell disease. They discuss treating pediatric patients and the mental and physical challenges that come with the condition. The disease can lead to disruptions to daily life, financial burden, and limitations to social development not only for the patient but their friends and family. Therefore, using new research and protocols that not only focus on medicinal treatments but holistic approaches that emphasize the social and emotional well-being of the patient, will be vital to making a comprehensive plan that fits the patient's needs. To read more about Dr. Boucher and Dr. Sadak's work with sickle cell patients and new research on the topic, follow this link to the full article.