CSIR project to tackle sickle cell anaemia

| | New Delhi

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has launched a mission project on diagnosis, prevention and management of sickle cell anaemia (SCA), the genetic blood disorder which is commonly found among tribals in India.

The SCA is an inherited disorder characterised by abnormal red blood cells that stick together in patients’ blood vessels, blocking the blood flow to organs, which can lead to severe pain, organ failure, stroke, and even death. Every year approximately 5, 00,000 children are born with SCA worldwide with India accounting for nearly 50 per cent of the cases.

A senior official from the CSIR said that a CSIR lab, the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), has joined hands with the Sickle Cell Institute of Chhattisgarh, Raipur (SCIC) to work on the project. Chhattisgarh has a sizable population of the SCA.

The disease is mainly concentrated in the scheduled tribe, scheduled caste and other backward caste populations of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Jharkhand, Gujrat, Andhra Pradesh, where carrier frequencies range between 5-40 per cent or more.

For instance, a project sponsored by the Department of Bio-Technology (DBT) in West Godavari district last year found that 10 per cent of tribals were affected by SCA. Tribal population was found to be prone to SCA because of malnutrition. A marked relationship had been established between genetic mutation and malnutrition. Also, Gujarat which has a tribal population of 80 lakh had already screened 20 lakh people for SCA.

According to another findings, while Chhattisgarh is home to 10 lakh sickle-cell anaemic people, Odisha has six lakh affected people.

The disease gets transmitted from one generation to the next if both the parents have sickle cell haemoglobin traits in their bodies.

Typically, SCA patients show symptoms such as anaemia, breathlessness, body pain, jaundice, repeated infection etc because of which their lifespan is reduced to 42-48 years. Mortality among children  is much high.

Dr Amar Agarwal- Chairman and MD of Dr Agarwal’s Group of Eye Hospital said, “Sickle Cell disease is fast becoming a serious health concern. Apart from brain, lungs, kidneys, liver and spleen, Sickle Cell disease can also lead to vision loss. When Sickle Cell disease worsens in the eye, it creates severe hemorrhages in the eye and retinal detachment. Some of the common eye ailments due to Sickle Cell disease are scarring/ retinal detachment and  Sickle Cell retinopathy.”

The Prime Minister, who has been keenly looking for a remedy to the disease since his days as Chief Minister of Gujarat, had discussed the issue with Nobel Prize winner for Medicine (2012) S Yamanaka when he visited the Kyoto University in 2015.



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