LSU Health Shreveport faculty members are bringing awareness to sickle cell anemia to help improve patient care with the Adult Sickle Cell Anemia Symposium, set for 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Aug. 19 in the LSU Health Auditorium (Room 1-400).
“Approximately 3,000 children and adults in Louisiana are living with sickle cell disease,” said Dr. Richard Mansour, Director of the Adult Sickle Cell Clinic at LSU Health’s Feist-Weiller Cancer Center. “In the past, life expectancy for sickle cell patients did not extend much past the 20s, but with improved identification and treatment, that has greatly improved and patients can live well into their 60s with the proper resources.”
Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders. In SCD, red blood cells become hard and sticky and resemble a sickle tool. SCD affects approximately 100,000 Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control, occurring in one out of every 365 African-American births.
With 15 speakers presenting various topics, the symposium will address the latest technology, emerging therapies, patient care, and current research efforts. The symposium is free to the general public and students, and registration for healthcare professionals is $25-35 for continuing medical education credit.
Dr. Felicity Gavins, Assistant Professor of Physiology at LSU Health, will discuss the latest in sickle cell research. Gavins was recently awarded a four-year, $1.45 million grant to investigate the dysfunction of the cerebral microvasculature in sickle cell disease from the Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.
“We’re looking at white blood cells, particularly how the neutrophils in sickle cell disease are different, how they contribute to the increase in inflammation and thrombosis that these patients have,” Gavins said of her research. “A lot of sickle cell patients are very susceptible to having strokes and heart attacks, so my research is looking to be able to target the specific cells, particularly neutrophils, in order to change their phenotype to perhaps protect these patients from having strokes.”
Patient and family support will also be discussed at the symposium. Feist-Weiller offers a sickle cell support group that meets at noon on Mondays at the cancer center. The group was recently featured in The Voice, the quarterly magazine published by the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America.