News

UWI, US hospital in joint sickle cell research

Published

on

‘);
} else {
$(“.fotorama-caption”).addClass(“remove_caption”);
}
})
.fotorama();

Jamaican scientists are collaborating with their counterparts in the United States on the use of gene therapy to combat sickle cell disease (SCD).

The development was revealed by Dr Monica Parshad Asnani of the Sickle Cell Unit (SCU) at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona campus, in St Andrew last week.

“The newest kid on the block is gene therapy,” Dr Parshad Asnani told Jamaica Observer reporters in an interview ahead of The UWI’s Research Days scheduled for February 6-8.

“The SCU at The UWI is currently involved in a gene therapy trial with a hospital in the US and there has been one report of a 13-year-old child from France who was cured of SCD through gene therapy two years ago. However, there is a lot more to be done, and so the gene therapy trial is ongoing,” she said.

In 2017, researchers reported in The New England Journal of Medicine that the teenager with sickle cell disease achieved complete remission after an experimental gene therapy at Necker Children’s Hospital in Paris.

“After 15 months since treatment, the patient — who began therapy at age 13 — no longer needs medication, and his blood cells show no further sign of the disease,” CNN reported at the time.

“Since therapy was applied, he hasn’t had any pain, any complications. He is free of any transfusions. He plays sports and goes to school,” the CNN report quoted Dr Philippe Leboulch, an author of the research and a professor of medicine at the University of Paris. “So we are quite pleased with the results.”

The CNN story also reported Dr Marina Cavazzana, senior author of the study and head of the biotherapy department at Necker, as saying that “all the biological tests we perform lead us to think he is cured”. However, Dr Cavazzana added that the answer to the question of whether he is truly cured could “be provided only by the longer follow-up”.

Gene therapy is the insertion of genes into an individual’s cells and tissues to treat a disease.

“For gene therapy, your transplant comes from yourself. The bone marrow is taken and a gene is converted and a corrective gene is inserted and then the patient is given back his or her bone marrow,” Dr Parshad Asnani explained last week.

She also stated that under collaboration with the US hospital, two Jamaican patients underwent gene therapy last year, and the unit is awaiting the results to determine how effective the treatment will prove to be and what options may arise as a result of the investigation.

“If gene therapy is successful, it is the hope that it will eventually be used to treat persons living in sub-Sahara in Africa, which has the most cases of persons living with SCD,” Dr Parshad Asnani said.

On the weekend, US media reported that researchers in Boston are hopeful that a new experimental gene therapy will help people with sickle cell disease.

According to a report in The Boston Herald, a team of doctors and researchers at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center recently held a clinical trial that was able to “flip the switch” in red blood cells.

“They removed a patient’s blood stem cells, which went through several months of gene modification so they would be able to to produce foetal haemoglobin; found in newborns, this does not sickle. Through an infusion, the gene-modified cells were given back to the patient,” the report said.

It added that the patient, an adult man, was hospitalised for more than a month and received chemotherapy. The newspaper said that Dr Erica Esrick, co-principal investigator of the clinical trial, admitted that the team felt optimistic about his results so far. “That is our hope for this study — that it is a curative approach,” The Herald quoted Dr Esrick.

According to Dr Parshad Asnani, sickle cell disease affects one in every 150 babies born in Jamaica, and at least one in every 300 babies is plagued by the most common type of the disease.

“Fever and infections are much more common in sickle cell babies and children than in babies and children who do not have the disease,” she said.

For this reason, the Sickle Cell Unit worked assiduously and was able to ensure that newborn screening was put in effect in at least the public hospitals in Jamaica.

Newborn screening allows for early diagnosis which in turn allows for early treatment, which will then provide the opportunity for the enhancement of the quality of life for a person with SCD.

Dr Parshad Asnani also shared that babies born in public hospitals have been tested for SCD since 2015.

She said that there are cures that are presently available for SCD through a bone marrow transplant.

“With bone marrow transplant, one of the biggest things that you need is someone who has a match for your bone marrow, and not even 15 per cent of the people living with the disease would have a match,” she said.

She further explained that the body rejects anything that is foreign and so in order for a bone marrow transplant to be successful, patients must have a match.

“The sickle cell patient’s bone marrow has to be killed in its entirety using strong treatment — chemotherapy — in order for the patient to be treated with somebody else’s bone marrow,” said Dr Parshad Asnani.

She shared that this treatment is not available in the Caribbean and there are issues surrounding the cure, hence it is still being investigated by scientists so that the issues may be rectified.

Dr Parshad Asnani also said that bone marrow transplants for children with SCD have been made free in the United States and that there are other treatments like penicillin that are not curative but will definitely aid in managing the disease.

Source link

قالب وردپرس

News

Over 30 sanctioned for not wearing masks in Mandeville

Published

on

By



























Over 30 sanctioned for not wearing masks in Mandeville





























































Copyright © 2020 Jamaica Observer. All Rights Reserved.

Terms under which this service is provided to you.
















Source link

قالب وردپرس

Continue Reading

News

1.5m health-care workers in Latin America, Caribbean fully vaccinated

Published

on

By



























1.5m health-care workers in Latin America, Caribbean fully vaccinated





























































Copyright © 2020 Jamaica Observer. All Rights Reserved.

Terms under which this service is provided to you.
















Source link

قالب وردپرس

Continue Reading

News

Ministry points to danger of vaccine hesitancy among high-risk groups

Published

on

By



























Ministry points to danger of vaccine hesitancy among high-risk groups





























































Copyright © 2020 Jamaica Observer. All Rights Reserved.

Terms under which this service is provided to you.
















Source link

قالب وردپرس

Continue Reading

News

Jamaicans head list of Caribbean people heading to Canada

Published

on

By



























Jamaicans head list of Caribbean people heading to Canada





























































Copyright © 2020 Jamaica Observer. All Rights Reserved.

Terms under which this service is provided to you.
















Source link

قالب وردپرس

Continue Reading

News

Penal partnership

Published

on

By



























Penal partnership





























































Copyright © 2020 Jamaica Observer. All Rights Reserved.

Terms under which this service is provided to you.
















Source link

قالب وردپرس

Continue Reading

popcaan