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NHLBI Stepping Up Efforts to Apprise SCD Patients of Therapies and Trials

Wide interest in a CBS 60 Minutes story about a Florida woman with sickle cell disease (SCD) whose symptoms were eased through gene therapy has prompted the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to raise awareness of other work the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is doing in this disease.

In the March TV segment, Jannelle Stephenson shared her experience of recovery after receiving genetic treatment as part of an ongoing NIH Phase 1/2 clinical trial (NCT02140554). That study is evaluating the safety and efficacy of the investigational gene therapy LentiGlobin in severe sickle cell anemia.

Developed by Bluebird bio, the therapy is designed to raise patients’ long-term hemoglobin levels. Hemoglobin is the molecule that transports oxygen in red blood cells. Researchers extracted stem cells which have the ability to develop into many different cell types in the body — from people with severe sickle cell anemia and injected them with LentiGlobin BB305 viral vector that carries the modified human beta-A-T87Q globin gene. The treated cells were then delivered back into the patients where they started to produce the hemoglobin (HbAT87Q).



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