Sickle Cell Research Advances

This weekend, the Tallahassee community will come together to help raise awareness and money for the Sickle Cell Foundation. A lead researcher of the disease works here in our area, and is working on the most promising drug on the market. However, more dollars are needed to improve its effect.

Dr. Lamba has began researching sickle cell disease 15 years, but with the help of federal and mostly state funding, Dr. Lamba and other researchers at Florida A&M University's College of Pharmacy have been doing cutting edge research for the hereditary blood disorder in which cells become starved for oxygen.

Dr. Lamba says he's developed the most promising drug on the market, but too strong a dose could induce leukemia. But if modified, the drug could make living with sickle cell more tolerable. Unfortunately, more research requires more funding; something Dr. Lamba says is a problem he's yet to solve.

If you would like to help out the Sickle Cell Foundation, attend the Crescent Moon Gala at The Moon in Tallahassee. It’s this Saturday at 7:30p.m.

For more information, call 850-222-2355.

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Sickle Cell Anemia

  • Sickle cell anemia causes the red blood cells to make abnormal hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the part of blood that carries oxygen in the body. There are different kinds of sickle cell disease. Some kinds are mild, but others cause serious illness.

  • Sickle cell anemia is an inherited disease.

  • Sickle cell anemia is most common in people whose ancestors came from Africa, Central America (especially Panama), South America, Caribbean nations, Mediterranean countries, India or Near Eastern countries.

  • When the red blood cells of people with sickle cell disease don't get enough oxygen, these cells change shape. They become longer and curved. Some people think they look like the blade of a cutting tool called a "sickle."

  • Sickle cells can get stuck in blood vessels and keep blood from reaching parts of the body. This causes pain and can damage the body's internal organs.

  • Blocked blood vessels in the arms, legs, chest or abdomen can cause strong pain. Children with sickle cell disease might get more infections because their spleen is damaged by sickle cells. (One of the spleen's main jobs is to protect against infection.)

Symptoms

Swollen hands or feet

  • Sudden paleness of the skin or nail beds
  • Yellow color of the skin or eyes
  • Fever or signs of infection
  • Swelling in the abdomen
  • Sudden tiredness with no interest in what is going on
  • Erection of the penis that won't go away
  • Trouble hearing or seeing
  • Weakness on one side of the body or a sudden change in speech
  • Headache
  • Trouble breathing
  • Joint, stomach, chest or muscle pain, or limping

    Treatments

    • Antibiotics
    • Vitamins like folic acid, helps the body replace damaged cells.
    • Special shots
    • Blood transfusions
    • Possible bone marrow transplants

      Source: www.nih.org (National Institute of Health Web site) contributed to this report.


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