Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Correcting sickle cell disease with stem cells

Date:
September 29, 2011
Source:
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Summary:
Using a patient's own stem cells, researchers have corrected the genetic alteration that causes sickle cell disease, a painful, disabling inherited blood disorder that affects mostly African-Americans. The corrected stem cells were coaxed into immature red blood cells in a test tube that then turned on a normal version of the gene.

This digitally-colorized scanning electron micrograph (SEM) revealed some of the comparative ultrastructural morphology between normal red blood cells (RBCs), and a sickle cell RBC (left).
Credit: CDC / Janice Haney Carr

Using a patient's own stem cells, researchers at Johns Hopkins have corrected the genetic alteration that causes sickle cell disease (SCD), a painful, disabling inherited blood disorder that affects mostly African-Americans. The corrected stem cells were coaxed into immature red blood cells in a test tube that then turned on a normal version of the gene.

The research team cautions that the work, done only in the laboratory, is years away from clinical use in patients, but should provide tools for developing gene therapies for SCD and a variety of other blood disorders.

In an article published online August 31 in Blood, the researchers say they are one step closer to developing a feasible cure or long-term treatment option for patients with SCD, which is caused by a single DNA letter change in the gene for adult hemoglobin, the principle protein in red blood cells needed to carry oxygen. People who inherited two copies -- one from each parent -- of the genetic alteration, the red blood cells are sickle-shaped, rather than round. The misshapen red blood cells clog blood vessels, leading to pain, fatigue, infections, organ damage and premature death.

Although there are drugs and painkillers that control SCD symptoms, the only known cure -- achieved rarely -- has been bone marrow transplant. But because the vast majority of SCD patients are African-American and few African-Americans have registered in the bone marrow registry, it has been difficult to find compatible donors, says Linzhao Cheng, Ph.D., a professor of medicine and associate director for basic research in the Division of Hematology and also a member of the Johns HopkinsInstitute for Cell Engineering. "We're now one step closer to developing a combination cell and gene therapy method that will allow us to use patients' own cells to treat them."

Using one adult patient at The Johns Hopkins Hospital as their first case, the researchers first isolated the patient's bone marrow cells. After generating induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells -- adult cells that have been reprogrammed to behave like embryonic stem cells -- from the bone marrow cells, they put one normal copy of the hemoglobin gene in place of the defective one using genetic engineering techniques.

The researchers sequenced the DNA from 300 different samples of iPS cells to identify those that contained correct copies of the hemoglobin gene and found four. Three of these iPS cell lines didn't pass muster in subsequent tests.

"The beauty of iPS cells is that we can grow a lot of them and then coax them into becoming cells of any kind, including red blood cells," Cheng said.

In their process, his team converted the corrected iPS cells into immature red blood cells by giving them growth factors. Further testing showed that the normal hemoglobin gene was turned on properly in these cells, although at less than half of normal levels. "We think these immature red blood cells still behave like embryonic cells and as a result are unable to turn on high enough levels of the adult hemoglobin gene," explains Cheng. "We next have to learn how to properly convert these cells into mature red blood cells."

Only one drug treatment has been approved by the FDA for treatment of SCD, hydroxyurea, whose use was pioneered by George Dover, M.D., the chief of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center. Outside of bone marrow transplants, frequent blood transfusions and narcotics can control acute episodes.

The research was funded by grants from the Maryland Stem Cell Fund and the National Institutes of Health, and a fellowship from the Siebel Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. Zou, P. Mali, X. Huang, S. N. Dowey, L. Cheng. Site-specific gene correction of a point mutation in human iPS cells derived from an adult patient with sickle cell disease. Blood, 2011; DOI: 10.1182/blood-2011-02-335554

Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. "Correcting sickle cell disease with stem cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110928180416.htm>.
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. (2011, September 29). Correcting sickle cell disease with stem cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110928180416.htm
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. "Correcting sickle cell disease with stem cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110928180416.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

AFP (Aug. 30, 2014) Authorities in Liberia try to stem the spread of the Ebola epidemic by raising awareness and setting up sanitation units for people to wash their hands. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
California Passes 'yes-Means-Yes' Campus Sexual Assault Bill

California Passes 'yes-Means-Yes' Campus Sexual Assault Bill

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 30, 2014) California lawmakers pass a bill requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on campuses. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Drug Could Reduce Cardiovascular Deaths

New Drug Could Reduce Cardiovascular Deaths

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) The new drug from Novartis could reduce cardiovascular deaths by 20 percent compared to other similar drugs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins