There is new cure for Sickle Cell Disease

As long as I can remember, Sickle Cell Disease was a fatal disease that robbed its victims of quality of life before eventually killing them. Approximately 100,000 Americans live with this disease.  

Just last week, we cremated a young woman and mother of two who died of Sickle Cell Disease. She suffered her entire life from extraordinary pain and organ damage that eventually led to a fatal stroke. If only she could have made it a few more months, she might have been cured.  

In November 2023, officials in the United Kingdom approved the first DNA gene splicing cure for Sickle Cell Disease, and United States officials are expected to follow suit in a few days.  

Sickle Cell Disease is a hereditary blood disorder characterized by abnormal hemoglobin, known as hemoglobin S (HbS), which causes red blood cells to become rigid and take on a characteristic “C” or sickle shape. This abnormal shape of red blood cells can lead to various complications and symptoms. Common symptoms include pain crises, anemia, fatigue, and infection susceptibility. Eventually, Sickle Cell Disease typically leads to a range of complications such as stroke, organ damage, and impaired growth and development in children.

The cure for Sickle Cell Disease modifies the patient’s DNA to produce non-diseased hemoglobin. The cost for this treatment is upwards of $3 million per patient because patients must receive extreme chemotherapy that kills bone marrow cells and then remain hospitalized for months in a sterile environment until new bone marrow is generated.  

But, the current cost of $3 million is less than the cost of treating the disease’s symptoms, and the costs are expected to decrease over time.  

Picture of colorful blue, red, and black DNA strand that reads "Genetic Engineering".

In addition to finding a cure for Sickle Cell Disease, researchers are working on cures for many different blood, lymph, and other hereditary cancers. I believe we are going to learn that researchers are going to cure leukemia and other diseases that killed so many. Even heart disease is being targeted for cure by gene editing.  

Botanists use gene editing to modify crops so that yields are much higher and plants are more resistant to disease and bugs.  

Even infectious disease treatments and diagnoses are being positively impacted by gene editing.  

Humanity stands on the cusp of a new era in medical science. The transformative power of gene editing beckons with the promise of a healthier future. By precisely targeting and modifying genes, we are not merely treating symptoms but addressing the root causes of diseases.