Sickle Cell Research

Through discovery, innovation and collaboration, researchers at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta are searching for ways to improve the outcomes and quality of life for children with sickle cell disease. Program themes include:

Clinical and Translational Research

  • Evaluating health outcomes and new therapies, such as hydroxyurea and stem cell transplantation
  • Improving the prevention of sickle cell disease complications, such as nephropathy, pain and stroke
  • Enhancing the quality of life
  • Advancing the treatment of sickle cell disease
  • Finding a cure
  • Red blood cell alloimmunization
  • Micronutrients
  • Find a clinical trial

Clinical and Translational Researchers

Basic Research

  • Determining whether angiogenic growth factors play a protective or pathological role in lung endothelial barrier integrity and in leg ulcers in sickle cell disease
  • Identifying specific anti-oxidant enzymes that protect the pulmonary vasculature from oxidant-induced remodelling in sickle cell disease pulmonary hypertension
  • Investigating the cellular interactions in sickle cell disease to determine their relative contributions to vaso-occlusion, hemolysis and reactive oxygen species generation
  • Pathogenesis of sickle cell disease in respect to the generation, prevention and treatment of organ dysfunction—examine the role of endothelial cells in the generation of both the proteinuria and the concentrating defects associated with renal dysfunction
  • Genomics
    • Genetic association studies to identify markers that influence the incidence of pulmonary hypertension and leg ulcers in sickle cell disease
  • Nanotechnology
    • Children’s is home to the first Center for Pediatric Nanomedicine in the nation. In conjunction with Emory, Georgia Tech and Morehouse, physicians and engineers will develop targeted, molecular-sized nanoparticles as part of a unique approach to treating pediatric diseases, such as sickle cell. Nanomedicine has the potential to profoundly improve, if not completely revolutionize, the treatment, care and ultimate cure of childhood diseases and conditions

Basic Researchers

Recent Publications

  • Ballas, SK, Lieff S, Benjamin, LJ, Dampier, CD, Heeney, MM, Hoppe, C, Johnson, CS, Rogers, ZR, Smith-Whitley, K, Wang, WC, Telen, MJ, on behalf of the Investigators at the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Centers.  Definitions of the Phenotypic Manifestations of Sickle Cell Disease.  Amer J Hematol 2010; 85:6-13. 
  • Dampier, CD, Lieff, S, LeBeau, P, Rhee, S, McMurray, M, Rogers, Z,  Smith-Whitley, K, Wang, W, and the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Centers (CSCC) Clinical Trial Consortium (CTC) Site Investigators. Health-related Quality of Life in Children with Sickle Cell Disease: A Report from the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Centers Clinical Trial Consortium”.  Pediatr Blood Cancer 2010; 55: 484-494.
  • Daniel, LC, Grant, M, Kothare, SV, Dampier, C, & Barakat, LP., Sleep Patterns in Pediatric Sickle Cell Disease. Pediatric Blood and Cancer  2010;55: 501-507. 
  • McPherson M, Anderson A, Jessup P, Castillejo MI, Bray R, Gebel H, Hillyer CD, Josephson CD.  HLA Alloimmunization in Pediatric Sickle Cell Disease Patients:  Potential Impact for Transfusion Management.  Pediatr Blood Cancer 2010;54:552-558.
  • McPherson ME, Hutcherson D, Olson E, Haight AE, Horan J and Chiang KY. Safety and eefficacy of targeted busulfan therapy in children undergoing myeloablative matched sibling donor BMT for sickle cell disease. Bone Marrow Transplant  2010.  (Epub ahead of print). PMID: 20305698 [PubMed - in process]
  • Krishnan, S., Dampier, CD., Stuart, M.  Increased levels of the Inflammatory Biomarker CRP at Baseline are Associated with Childhood Sickle Cell Vaso-Occlusive Crises, Brit J Haematol 2010;148:797-804.
  • King JA, Fang T, Mbuenkui F and Ofori-Acquah SF.  The breast cancer prognostic marker ALCAM is regulated by promoter methylation and clusters tumor cells in the lung vasculature. Molecular Cancer 2010;9:266-282. 
  • Miller ST, Wang WC, Iyer R, Rana S, Lane PA, Ware RE, Li D, Rees RC.  Urine concentrating ability in infants with sickle cell disease: Baseline data from the phase III trial of hydroxyurea (BABY HUG). Pediatr Blood Cancer 2010; 54:265-268
  • Patterson CA, Barakat LP, Henderson PK, Nall F, Westin A, Dampier CD, Hsu, LL.  Comparing Abstract Numerical and Visual Depictions of Risk in Survey of Parental Assessment of Risk in Sickle Cell Hydroxyurea Treatment.   J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 2011;33:4–9.
  • Pavlakis SG, Rees RC, Huang X, Brown RC, Casella JF, Iyer RV, Kalpatthi R, Luden J, Miller ST, Rogers ZR, Thornburg CD, Wang WC, Adams RJ, for the BABY HUG Investigators.   Transcranial Doppler ultrasonography (TCD) in infants with sickle cell anemia:  Baseline data from the BABY HUG Trial.  Pediatr Blood Cancer 2010;54:256-259.
  • Treadwell M, Telfair J, Gibson RW, Johnson S, Osunkwo ITransition from pediatric to adult care in sickle cell disease: establishing evidence-based practice and directions for research.  Am J Hematol. 2010. [Epub printed ahead.]  pubmed/21061308 .
  • Tan F, Ghosh S, Mbuenkui F, Thomas R, Weiner JA, Ofori-Acquah SF. Essential role for ALCAM gene silencing in megakaryocytic differentiation. BMC Molecular Biology 2010;11:91-103.
  • Thompson BW, Rogers ZR, Miller ST, Rees RC, Ware RE, Waclawiw MA, Iyer RV, Casella JF, Luchtman-Jones L, Rana S, Thornburg CD, Kalpatthi RV, Barredo JC, Brown RC, Sarnaik S, Howard TH, Luck L, Wang WC.   The Pediatric Hydroxyurea Phase III Clinical Trial (BABY HUG): Challenges of Study Design.  Pediatr Blood Cancer 2010; 54:250-255.
  • Ware RE, Rees RC, Sarnaik I, Iyer R, Alvarez OA, Casella JF, Shulkin BL, Shalaby-Rana E, Strife CF, Miller JH, Lane PA, Wang WC, Miller ST and the BABY HUG Investigators. Renal Function in Infants with Sickle Cell Anemia: Baseline Data from the BABY HUG Trial. J Pediatr 2010;156:66-70.

Research Collaborations

The Aflac Cancer Center Sickle Cell Program conducts leading-edge research in collaboration with the following local, regional and national organizations: