Alabama man free of sickle cell after gene therapy |

Alabama man free of sickle cell after gene therapy

Samson X Horne
Courtesy of Lynndrick Holmes
Lynndrick Holmes and family. Holmes, of Mobile, Ala., is sickle cell free after a two-year gene therapy treatment.
Courtesy of Lynndrick Holmes
This undated photo of Lynndrick Holmes of Mobile, Ala. was taken during one of his gene therapy treatments. Holmes is reportedly sickle cell free after completing the two-year therapy.

Researchers are hoping they have found a cure for sickle cell patients as gene therapy has rendered an Alabama man free of the disease.

Lynndrick Holmes of Mobile told NBC-affiliate WPMI that he underwent a two-year treatment at the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C.

The therapy was completed in March, and Holmes remains sickle cell free. He is considered the first Alabamian to reach that status.

The newly-healthy man says he can live life with a sense of normalcy.

“It feels amazing,” Holmes told WPMI. “I didn’t know how bad it was living with sickle cell until I got cured. Once I got cured, I was like, ‘I can’t believe I was living like that and I was expected to live out the rest of my life like that.’”

The treatment involves taking stem cells from the patient’s bone marrow and tweaking the gene that causes cells to become misshapen. The modified gene is then put back in using deactivated HIV.

People who suffer from sickle cell experience extreme pain when red blood cells become “sickle-shaped,” clogging blood vessels and starving organs of oxygen.

The disease affects nearly 100,000 Americans, most of whom are African-American. About one in 13 African-American babies is born with the trait and about one in 365 have the disease, according to the CDC.

Doctors claim it takes five years without complication to declare a patient cured of sickle cell, WPMI reported.

Samson X Horne is a Tribune-Review digital producer. You can contact Samson at 412-320-7845, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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