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Healthy Conversations: The new clinical conventions surrounding sickle cell disease

November 10, 2021 | Healthy Conversations

One hundred thousand Americans have been diagnosed with sickle cell disease (SCD), many more of us have the trait but don’t know it. In addition to an array of new therapeutics, recent studies provide clinicians a deeper understanding of the attributes of red blood cells, which will positively impact our understanding of SCD as well as a range of other disease states, cardiovascular health and beyond.

Historically, sickle cell studies have been underfunded, while patients in crisis have been treated through a mantle of skepticism. Beverly Francis-Gibson, President and CEO of the Sickle Cell Association of America, points out that sickle cell patients visit the emergency room 15 times per year, on average. She elaborates, “We did a survey a few years ago and found that for families where there was a new diagnosis of sickle cell disease, it typically takes the family four years to literally stumble into finding the right treatment or the right providers.”

Dr. Daniel Kraft sat down with Dr. Patrick Hines, founder and CEO at Functional Fluidics, one of the nation’s leading sickle cell disease researchers at Wayne State University in Detroit, where he set up a transformational study to further define biomarkers and other measurable attributes of red blood cells – membrane stability, abnormalities, stickiness and more. In this podcast, Dr. Hines provides a comprehensive list of treatments now in testing, particularly proactive treatments like monoclonal antibodies, hemoglobin modification and oxidative stress reducers.

Rounding out our understanding of the latest clinical approaches, pain tracking modalities, and treatments available is Joel Helle, Vice President of Physician Services for CVS Specialty Pharmacy. In addition to outlining four key areas of focus for the enterprise, Joel provided us a glimpse into the tools that are currently in development to help patients with SCD, and his strategy to democratize these transformational advancements in care.