Sickle Cell Disease is a genetic disorder that occurs when two mutant haemoglobin genes (HbS) are inherited from both parents. It is a medical emergency and was once said to be incurable.
According to the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, “Nigeria has the highest burden of Sickle Cell Disease in the world”. With about 150,000 affected children born yearly in Nigeria and about 25% of the adult population being carriers of the S-gene, Crizanlizumab can be termed “a perfect light”.
Meanwhile, the first treatment of SCD in 20years has been made by Novartis and approved by the National Health Service (NHS) in England. This is indeed an “innovative treatment”, just as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has described it.
Crizanlizumab binds to P-selectin, a protein that is found in red blood cells. This binding hinders the adhesion and clumping together of the protein molecules, thereby preventing blood vessel occlusion which leads to excruciating pain. Crizanlizumab is injected into the vein on its own or with standard treatment and regular blood transfusion.
Patients who have been treated with Crizanlizumab had a Sickle-cell crisis 1.6 times a year as compared to the normal 3 times a year. “This is a new hope for people living with the world’s most common genetic blood”, declared The Charity Sickle Cell Society. In the next 3 years, it is believed that this new treatment will help about 5000 people with SCD live a better life.
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