Learning More About Sickle Cell Pathophysiology

June 23, 2020
Kevin Kunzmann

Ken Ataga, MD, discusses new developments in interpreting the condition's progression and effect on patients.

Kenneth Ataga, MD

New review and meta-analysis data published in April of this year showed patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) and low hemoglobin levels were at an increased risk of a gamut of very serious, potentially lethal comorbidities sometimes observed in patients with the rare hematologic condition.

The review, conducted by Kenneth Ataga, MD, of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and US-based colleagues, found hemoglobin levels served as a consistent biomarker for patients’ increased risks of cerebrovascular disease, kidney disease, pulmonary vasculopathy, and, overall mortality.

What does this mean for the understanding and treatment of sickle cell disease?

In an interview with HCPLive®, Ataga discussed how these findings contributed to the growing understanding of the disease’s pathophysiology—from individual trials to greater, pooled assessment like these.

He explained how these observed risks, as well as other cardiovascular and pulmonary events, have been frequently observed in the clinic in such patients.

“I think, clinically, those of us who take care of patients with sickle cell disease have noted there are patients who have low levels of hemoglobin who seem to have a high risk of complications,” Ataga said.

Ataga also touched on how this proven assessment may influence the next level of sickle cell agent trials.

“That does offer opportunities for the conduct of trials looking at medications that can increase hemoglobin levels, and seeing what impact those medications may have,” he explained.