Goal 2: Reduce Human Disease

Innovations in Red Cell Transfusion in Sickle Cell Disease

Challenges that need to be overcome in blood transfusion, especially in SCD, include:

a. Adopting molecular genotyping as the standard in blood transfusion therapy.

b. Advancing new generation, anti-oxidant hemoglobin-based oxygen carriers (HBOCs) for use in emergencies such as trauma, stroke, acute hemolysis, and in transfusion in SCD and related disorders. In SCD, HBOCs have the capacity to not only serve as substitutes to donor RBC, but to prevent polymerization of Hb S and sickling, by sparing recipient hemoglobin-bound oxygen and leaving Hb S mostly oxygenated.

c. Evaluation of transfusion as disease-modifying therapy in SCD.

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? Critical Challenge (CC)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC

Transfusion of RBC is major adjunct in the management of trauma, acute and chronic illness. Issues in blood transfusion include availability of donors, RBC typing and crossmatching, cold storage of donor cells, and limited viability of stored RBC. Globally, in many situations where blood is critically needed, these systems are not available.
An increasing percentage of people with SCD require regular RBC transfusion to prevent stroke and other major complications. In addition, RBC transfusion is employed repeatedly in the management of serious acute complications of SCD. Transfusion of normal RBC to replace or supplement the patient’s defective RBC is the most effective intervention in the management of SCD.

Impacts:
• Molecular genotyping of RBC will reduce alloimmunization.
• Use of new generation HBOCs that do not require blood typing, crossmatching, refrigeration, and that do not transmit infection, would save lives in conditions of severe hemorrhage, stroke, possibly heart attack, especially where there is no immediate access to adequate medical facilities.
• In SCD, HBOCs could prevent pain or reduce its severity and duration, prevent stroke, reduce severity of acute chest syndrome, and other vasoocclusive complications. Finally, HBOCs have the potential to alter the pathogenesis of SCD.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC

The problems in managing chronic RBC transfusion in SCD remain the same as they have been for decades: all immunization, iron overload, and infection transmission. It is clear that traditional serological RBC phenotyping is unable to detect several variants of RBC antigens, especially those in the Rh system, in populations of African descent. This leads to erroneous phenotyping and the appearance of “auto antibodies” that are truly alloantibodies resulting from transfusion of mismatched blood. As a result, people with SCD are the most frequent users of the American Rare Donor Program.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea Kwaku Ohene-Frempong, MD

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Idea No. 558