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.
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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.
Alabama man free of sickle cell disease, @UABSOM's Julie Kanter MD spoke with @WebMD about what that means and how an innovative trial is helping move toward a more universal cure for #sicklecelldisease https://t.co/JPgRESLfFZ
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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.