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Georgia Tech hosts sickle cell disease symposium
Date:11/3/2010

Georgia Tech will host the Sickle Cell Disease Symposium bringing together researchers, policy experts and community advocates to discuss the latest research and strategies for future success in combating this complex and debilitating blood disorder. The symposium begins at Georgia Tech's Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience on November 4 and concludes the evening of November 5.

"There's a misconception that sickle cell disease solely affects African Americans and that it does not represent a health disparity. All races can be affected and the disease is most prevalent in those with ancestry from sub-Saharan Africa, Saudi Arabia, India, the Mediterranean and Latin and South America," said conference organizer Gilda Barabino, professor and associate chair for graduate studies in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. "Sickle cell disease is prevalent in populations that face social, economic, cultural, structural, geographical and other barriers to comprehensive and quality care and, as such is among the diseases that involve health disparities."

Sickle cell disease is a blood disorder that results in patients having mostly hemoglobin S in their blood streams. Patients with this disorder often have red blood cells that take on a sickle shape, rather than the typical disc shape. The sickle-shaped blood cells are less pliable than normal red blood cells, making it difficult for blood to pass through small blood vessels. When sickle cells clog up small blood vessels, less fresh blood can flow to that tissue, causing damage and the eventual complications that accompany sickle cell disease.

"There is no cure for sickle cell disease, and existing therapies are limited in their benefit to patients. This blood disorder involves virtually every organ system, and each must be addressed in the context of the other systems," said Barabino. "While understandably, since Sickle cel
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Contact: David Terraso
david.terraso@comm.gatech.edu
404-385-2966
Georgia Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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