New promising Sickle Cell Disease treatment

GREENVILLE, NC (WITN) - A new and cutting-edge treatment for one debilitating disease is making waves in the medical field.

One Greenville patient describes the pain of sickle cell disease as excruciating, like a dump truck weighing down her entire body.

Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder that affects about 100,000 people in the U.S., and it mainly impacts African Americans. When someone has this disease, their cells turn into sickle shapes, and all the blood cells become stickier and adhere to the blood vessel wall. This can cause serious and unpredictable pain crises.

However, the newest treatment medication for sickle cell disease that was approved by the FDA last Friday is called Adakvio. It targets those sticky blood cells to reduce the pain in patients.

Darla Liles, a hematologist at ECU's Brody School of Medicine who was involved in the trial of the medication, said that beforehand, sickle cell patients could only use pain medication. "It was very exciting to be able to offer this to our patients as something again that actually impacts the disease itself and not just masks the pain," she said.

She also explained that this is a breakthrough that could be a promising step forward for many seeking relief. Although exciting, she did also say that it may not work for all patients with the disease and that patients should consult with their doctor about their options.