Health Discoveries in General Health News

September designated as sickle cell disease awareness month

September 17, 2010
September's designation this year as National Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Month has special significance as it commemorates the 100th anniversary of the first research paper on the disease, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

In 1910, Chicago physician Dr. James Herrick wrote of the disease in the Archives of Internal Medicine. NIH is sponsoring a symposium named after Herrick on Nov. 15 and 16 that explores research related to the disease, which affects as many as 100,000 Americans. Most individuals who have sickle cell disease are African-American although it can strike people of other ethnic and racial groups.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has a panel of experts that are compiling clinical practice guidelines for primary care providers to follow for their patients with sickle cell disease. The guidelines are expected to be released in 2011.

The use of the drug hydroxyurea, blood transfusions and bone marrow transplantation are some of the treatment advances that now allow those with sickle cell disease to live into middle age and later.

Within the North Shore-LIJ Health System, researchers have studied whether macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) - a protein known to be released during inflammation - is increased in sickle cell disease during fever, sepsis or shock.
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