By Sean Marshall
This week the sickle cell anemia community had more international news to take in. Luckily there was good news that came fromlaboratoryequipment.com. The site’s news section mainly covers scientific and medical breakthroughs. Most news and academic article coverage is usually done by medical schools or professors. This generally means that the information is up to date for the time and is scientifically arcuate.
The particular article was about the “two beneficial variants of a gene controlling red blood cell development.” The article explains that the newest study from King’s was all about the study of genomes of world populations. This was done to “look for the origin of changes in a key regulator gene that stimulates fetal haemoglobin production into adulthood.”
To understand why there is even a study about fetal and adult haemoglobin the article explains what these two red blood cell types do. Fetal haemoglobin is the type of haemoglobin a human being produces in the womb. Hence the name fetal haemoglobin, however the average human body switches to producing adult hemoglobin after birth.
It was explained in the article that “we continue to produce very small amounts of fetal haemoglobin in adulthood, some more than others. “ It also went on to explain how this ties into sickle cell anemia. “Patients who have the genetic factors that increase fetal haemoglobin production tend to have milder symptoms of their blood disorder.”
This is an issue because according to the article “Patients who have the genetic factors that increase fetal haemoglobin production tend to have milder symptoms of their blood disorder.” Basically those who have blood disorders have bodies that are often producing more fetal hemoglobin then they can handle.
This article is good news because it means the scientific community is narrowing down on potential ways to help people. In a quote from Stephen Menzal “"Patients who have milder versions of blood disorders, thanks to their ability to keep producing fetal haemoglobin, carry genetic clues that are helping us to understand the function of the genes and biological pathways involved in these diseases."
It must be pointed out that the author of the article was King’s College, the very same place the study came from. This means that any negative impacts the study caused would not be reported on. This is good news but just remember to not take it all on face value alone.
If you’d like to learn more about what was mentioned follow the link: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/07/beneficial-gene-has-spread-across-globe?qt-print_issue_laboutlook_supplemen=0
With the good news comes the bad. An article out of the Saudi Gazette explains that preliminary tests don’t stop genetic blood diseases. The Saudi Gazette first stated that “the latest statistics published by the Ministry of Health, the Saudi Ministry of Health, and the percentage of disease carriers is about 4.3 percent, and pre-marital screening tests have not stopped the spread of the disease.”
It then has to be explained that The Saudi Ministry of Health launched “the mandatory premarital screening in 2004 in order to reduce the incidence of hereditary blood disorders.’ This covered diseases like sickle cell anemia and thalassemia. It also must be said that “in 2008, the program was expanded to include mandatory screening for hepatitis B and C viruses and Human Immunodeficiency Virus or more commonly known as HIV.”
The article then got quotes from Internal medicine and infectious diseases consultant Dr. Dhiya Al-Hajjaj. She felt that “the lack of laws that prohibit the marriage of patients with sickle cell anemia and other serious hereditary diseases has contributed significantly to the increase in number of people infected with these diseases.”
The article also said that Al-Hajjaj advised people who are infected with sickle cell anemia not to marry because of the potential negative impact on the next generation, especially since children born to couples carrying the disease have a 25 percent risk of infection.
The bad news however isn’t that individuals with sickle cell anemia are on the rise or that people with blood disorders can be wed it’s the ideals behind the article. The solution to sickle cell isn’t a cure with homeopathic medicine or bone marrow transplants but officials trying to put laws into place forbidding people to marry, to have children because of a disease they are born with.
The whole idea of destroying the disease is by stopping the blood lines of those who have it. This in bad news because this article reaches many people it gets the message that doctors and other experts feel that people with sickle cell should not wed one another. It’s not right and its dangerous thinking.
If you would like to read the article for yourself follow to see if this is just one big overreaction go to the link below:http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentid=20140802213312
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This section is solely to let our Sickle Soldiers tell their story trials & tribulations alongside things they feel are wrong in the Sickle Cell Community