LIBRA powers sickle cell research
LIBRA has boosted vital sickle cell research being carried out at King’s College Hospital in London, with £10,000 of funding. The funds which were urgently required will cover the cost of StemSpan™ technology, used for stem cell expansion.
Stephan Menzel MD, who is a Senior Lecturer in Red Cell Haematology and heading up the research project explained:
“We are so grateful to LIBRA for stepping in to help us maintain the momentum of our research, by covering the cost of such a critical reagent. StemSpanTM media contains the growth factors required for red blood cells to thrive and develop. The media is very expensive, but a vital fuel which powers our studies.
“Advances in cell technology have made it possible to ‘grow blood’ in our laboratory – this means that we can isolate stem cells from a donor and then persuade these to form red blood cells in a culture dish.
“These cells give our blood its red colour and serve to transport oxygen from the lungs to other organs and to transport waste carbon dioxide back to the lungs. In sickle cell disease, these cells carry a severe genetic defect, leading the ‘sickle’ deformation and impaired function.
“More recently, the development of genome editing technologies has made it possible to change the genetic make-up of stem and progenitor cells very effectively. This process has been been used to develop new gene therapy approaches for sickle cell disease.
“Thanks to the support of LIBRA we can continue to study how blood (haematopoietic) stem cells work and how they respond to disease and treatment.”
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