A team led by Dr Baba Inusa, paediatric consultant at Evelina London Children's Hospital and honorary reader in paediatric haematology in King’s School of Life Course Sciences, has been awarded €2.1 million by the European Commission* to create an international network to better understand and treat sickle cell disease (SCD).
SCD is the name for a group of inherited diseases that affect red blood cells. People with SCD form abnormally shaped cells that can become stuck in blood vessels. Many patients have mild or no symptoms, but others experience periods of severe pain, increased risk of infection, severe anaemia, acute cerebral stroke and other end organ damage such as kidney failure and pulmonary hypertension, as well as premature death.
More than 300,000 babies are born worldwide with SCD every year. Although 85% of these births are in sub-Saharan Africa, because of migration SCD is now prevalent elsewhere and has become the most common inherited, life-threatening disorder in the UK and France.
In low- and middle-income countries fewer than half of affected children live beyond their 10th birthday. In contrast, more than 94% of those born with SCD in high-income countries survive into adulthood. There are multiple factors thought to be responsible for this disparity including poor access to early diagnosis, effective medication and comprehensive follow-up care.
Dr Baba Inusa, project lead, said: