International Programs

Where does the Center for Sickle Cell Disease have International Programs?

We have several ongoing International Projects facilitated by the Center for Sickle Cell Disease. In an effort to expand our reach and affect underprivileged individuals living with sickle cell disease and other hematological disorders, the Center is working broadening its services and research efforts in several different countries. The Director of International Programs is Dr. Zakari Aliyu.

Nigeria

Our main Nigerian colleagues are from the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital located in Zaria, Kauna State in Northern Nigeria. The collaborative research underway involves sickle cell disease-related pulmonary hypertension (PAH) as it relates to prevelant infectious disease and hydroxyurea treatment of sickle cell disease.

Our first clinical hypothesis is that interactions between these infectious complications and sickle cell related hemolysis would lead to an even higher prevalence of PAH in Nigeria. Our study is therefore designed to determine the prevalence of PAH in Nigerian patients with SCD using echocardiographic measurements of the tricuspid regurgitant jet velocity. We aim to determine the associations and epidemiological interactions that might lead to PAH, of endemic infectious disease co-morbidities, especially HIV/AIDS, with SCD by screening for these infectious diseases in control subjects and in SCD patients with and without PAH. Our second translational hypothesis is that genetic polymorphisms in candidate genes that regulate endothelial function and adhesion contribute to the development of PAH phenotype in African SCD patients. We will identify and selectively characterize single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in genes important for endothelial function, vascular inflammation and cardiac function. Finally, our study using the SELDI-TOF-MS system and 2D differential gel electrophoresis (DIGE), will examine differential patterns of plasma protein expression, in particular the apolipoproteins and arginase I and II enzymes, as potential biomarkers or therapeutic targets in sickle cell patients with pulmonary hypertension. Our proposal uniquely integrates international clinical, epidemiologic and molecular studies to determine the burden of SCD related PAH, decipher the mechanism of interactions of PAH and infectious diseases and identify genetic and protein markers and potential therapeutic targets for PAH. Our collaboration will provide an opportunity for the rapid transfer of appropriate technology and knowledge relevant to the provision of the highest quality care to sickle cell patients in Nigeria, the United States and the world. Principal Investigator - Zakari Aliyu, MD.

Russia

Research into pulmonary hypertension in patients with congenital polycythemia in Chuvashia, Russia. Principal Investigator - Victor Gordeuk, MD.

Zimbabwe

Research into iron deficiency in children with the University of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwean Collaborator - Ishmael Kasvosve, PhD, UZ PI.

Zambia

Research into severe malarial anemia in children with Macha Malaria Research Institute and Philip E. Thuma, MD.