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SPECIAL COVERAGE: Living With Wildfires: San Diego Firestorm 10 Years Later

Scientists Attack Sickle Cell Anemia

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Researchers at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology are testing a drug that could dramatically improve the lives of people with sickle cell anemia.

— Researchers at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology are testing a drug that could dramatically improve the lives of people with sickle cell anemia.

The sickle cell disease is found in 70,000 Americans, mostly of African descent. It impedes blood flow causing pain, difficulty breathing and early death.

Now researchers at the La Jolla institute are involved in human trials of a molecular substance that has shown good effects in lab animals. What's more, it's already available for human use in the drug Lexiscan, which is used to diagnose heart disease.

La Jolla institute biologist Joel Linden said the drug prevents white blood cells from reacting to sickle cell anemia and causing more problems.

"We're preventing an inflammatory cascade that normally occurs that makes the blockage of the blood vessels much worse," he said.

Linden said human trials should show in a few months whether Lexiscan has the desired effect in sickle cell patients.

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