The University of Ibadan in partnership with the University of Illinois, Chicago, USA and University of Loyola, Chicago have discovered a permanent cure for the terminal disease.
The new treatment involves bone marrow transplant which is less risky compared to conventional stem cell transplant (SCT).
During Stem Cell Transplant, a patient is exposed to chemotherapy; used to kill all the recipient's bone marrow cells before replacing them with a donor's bone marrow cells.
However, using chemotherapy is associated with several deleterious side effects and adults were unable to benefit from stem cell transplant because their organs, damaged from years of sickle cell disease could not tolerate the side effects of chemotherapy.
Good news is that with the new bone marrow transplant (BMT) procedure, sickle cell in adults can be cured without those side effects.
“In the new procedure, patients receive immuno-suppressive drugs just before the transplant, along with a very low dose of total body irradiation, a treatment much less harsh and with fewer potentially serious side effects than chemotherapy,” said Dr Foluke Fasola.
She added, "Donor cells from a healthy and tissue-matched sibling are transfused into the patient. Stem cells from the donor produce healthy new blood cells in the patient, eventually in sufficient quantity to eliminate symptoms. In many cases, sickle cells can no longer be detected and patients must continue to take immunosuppressant drugs for at least a year."
I'm so proud of Nigeria right now!