Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Awards $2.43 Million for Sickle Cell Research

The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation has announced three-year grants of $486,000 to five projects selected through its Innovations in Clinical Research Award competition, which was launched in April to help catalyze new breakthroughs in the treatment of sickle cell disease and tap into recent advances in biomedical research.

The grants will support a range of approaches to improving the health of patients with sickle cell disease, including identifying new drugs to more effectively treat the disease; testing new strategies to identify and treat patients at risk for severe neurologic complications; understanding the genetic basis for variations in the severity of the disease so as to better predict its clinical course and improve treatment options; and advancing efforts to find a cure by using gene correction to repair the sickle mutation that causes the disease.

During the 1980s and early '90s, management of sickle cell disease improved greatly with advances such as screening of newborns, the use of antibiotics to prevent infection in infants and young children, and treatment with the anticancer drug hydroxyurea, which remains the only FDA-approved drug available for treating the disease. The 2009 ICRA grants aim to spur new advances by enabling researchers to apply expertise and innovations from other fields such as genetics, chemistry, and cardiology to improve the health of sickle cell patients.

"We are excited to support the investigators leading these five research projects, which hold great promise for developing improved treatments and cures for sickle cell patients," said Ed Henry, president of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. "We hope the results of this competition and the innovative work of our grantees over the next three years will help revitalize interest in pursuing new breakthroughs in sickle cell disease."