OAKLAND, CA - Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland is hosting the 2nd annual international Advanced Workshop on Sickle Cell Disease October 28 and 29. This impressive conference will bring together hematologists from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, and beyond, and the premier sickle cell experts from the United States for a dialogue on research, comprehensive care, and new treatments and therapies.
"Children's Hospital Oakland is home to one of the most comprehensive sickle cell centers in the world and cares for approximately 1,000 patients from birth to patients in their seventies,” said conference host Elliott Vichinsky, MD, Children’s Medical Director of Hematology/Oncology and a Principal Investigator at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI). “At our Research Institute, several scientists and clinicians, like myself, are devoted to researching new treatments and cures for hemoglobin disorders.”
First identified 100 years ago, sickle cell has long been considered a childhood disease because life expectancy was traditionally mid-twenties. Due to advances in research and treatment, the life expectancy of a person with sickle cell now exceeds 50 years. In some cases, the disease has even been cured. Children's Hospital is an international leader in sibling chord blood transplant in order to cure sickle cell disease.
The most common treatment includes the drug hydroxyurea, blood transfusions, and comprehensive care. Even with treatment, children are often hospitalized due to the acute complications associated with the disease. The severity of sickle cell disease varies from person to person, but complications can be life-threatening. Complications include stroke, acute chest syndrome (chest pain, fever, and difficulty breathing), pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure), infections, severe pain, renal disease, hip disease, and impaired quality of life.
Each year, there are more than 300,000 births with sickle cell disease worldwide. Sickle cell disease is most commonly found in people whose origins are in malaria-infested areas such as the Middle East, central and Latin America, and Africa. When a person has one single sickle cell gene, known as sickle cell “trait,” they are resistant to malaria. When two trait carriers produce a child, there is a 25 percent chance that the child will have sickle cell disease.
Approximately 100,000 people in the United States are living with sickle cell disease today. California’s Newborn Screening Program recently reported that every one in 100 births has sickle cell trait. In the Middle East alone, an estimated 6,000 children are born with sickle cell each year.
“Internationally, hundreds of thousands of babies are born each year with sickle cell disease,” said Dr. Vichinsky. “Through this workshop, we are able to develop new relationships and strengthen existing relationships between Children’s Hospital Oakland and countries with sickle cell disease. Through collaborative meetings like this conference, we are able to improve care worldwide”
Conference attendees will be educated on the latest clinical management strategies and provide a forum for participants from around the world to increase collaborative opportunities. Sessions include stem cell transplantation as a cure, new drugs that turn on and off genes, and improving quality of life for adults living with sickle cell disease.
The Advanced Workshop on Sickle Cell Disease will take place October 28 and 29 at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute at 5700 Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Oakland.
About Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland
Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland is Northern California’s only independent not-for-profit regional medical center for children. Children’s Hospital Oakland is a national leader in many pediatric specialties and sub-specialties including hematology/oncology, neonatology, cardiology, orthopedics, sports medicine, and neurosurgery. The hospital is one of only two solely designated California Level 1 pediatric trauma centers with the largest pediatric inpatient critical care unit in the region. Children’s Hospital has 190 licensed beds, 201 hospital-based physicians in 30 specialties, more than 2,700 employees, and an annual operating budget of more than $350 million. Children’s is also a premier teaching hospital with an outstanding pediatric residency program and a number of unique pediatric subspecialty fellowship programs. Children’s research program, Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI), is internationally renowned for taking state-of-the-art basic and clinical research and translating it into interventions for treating and preventing human diseases. CHORI has 300 members of its investigative staff, a budget of about $50 million, and is ranked among the nation’s top 10 research centers in National Institutes of Health funding to children’s hospitals.