Advancing understanding of the factors causing pain in patients with Sickle Cell Disease to identify targets for therapeutic intervention
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Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is the most common inherited hemoglobinopathy in the United States, affecting over 100,000 individuals who are primarily Black and Hispanic. SCD leads to restricted blood flow, severe pain, and chronic inflammation. Collectively, this leads to multi-organ damage and premature death. Acute severe pain is the most common cause of hospitalization in patients with SCD, costing $2 billion per year in the U.S. and equating to approximately $20 million per year in Wisconsin, where an estimated 1,000 children and adults have SCD.
FDA-approved treatments for SCD decrease the frequency of occurrence of acute pain episodes. However, treatment options mainly rely on opioids, which fail to completely alleviate pain and have serious adverse side effects. Coupled with systemic racial discrimination in health care, patients in desperate need of pain relief are less likely to have their pain treated. These treatment discrepancies and the current opioid crisis create an immediate need for non-opioid-based SCD pain therapies. However, in order to develop novel therapies, a better understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying human SCD pain is needed.
Through this award, investigators aim to advance understanding of the factors that cause pain in SCD patients in order to help identify targets for therapeutic intervention.
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