New advance in the treatment of sickle cell anaemia



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Sickle cell anaemia is a genetic disease characterised by the sickling of red blood cells in patients suffering from hypoxia (around 100,000 cases in Europe and North America).

The red blood cells then adopt a sickle shape, obstruct the blood vessels and cause repeated and very painful crises.

Current treatment involves frequent and substantial exchange transfusions to prevent or treat sickle cell crises.

“These red blood cell transfusions are difficult to manage, however, and sometimes require 10 to 12 bags of packed red blood cells per patient per session. And these patients often have blood groups that are rare in Europe, making the collection of blood bags a complex task. Also, in the long term, they cause highly problematic poly-immunisation phenomena. Faced with this public health issue, ERYtech Pharma’s technology could meet our as yet unmet need to significantly reduce the frequency and number of bags being transfused”, explains Dr Dominique Rigal, Scientific Director of the Etablissement Français du Sang (French Blood Service) of Lyon and Rh?Alpes.

In an in vitro model, ERYtech Pharma researchers have shown a very significant reduction in sickling when the red blood cells of sickle cell patients are mixed with GR-ARA1. This programme is awarded by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (French research agency) 2008 competition. “We are very happy to receive this recognition which validates our approach both in scientific, medical and economic terms. This grant wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the teams of Dr Cyril Martin from the Université Claude Bernard in Lyon (CNRS E647) and Professor Pierre-Louis Tharaux from the Lariboisière Research Centre in Paris (INSERM 689)” says Dr Yann Godfrin, CEO and the company’s Scientific Director.

“Sickle cell anaemia is the first application for GR-ARA1, but we are in the process of developing it for use in other pathologies. This project, which is in its acceleration phase, is sparking the interest of manufacturers and numerous international transfusion centres. We are entering an active co-development phase”, says Pierre-Olivier Goineau, COO in charge of Business Development.

About GR-ARA-1

The Oxygen’ERY System technology consists of encapsulating an allosteric effecter of haemoglobin into erythrocytes to increase their ability to release oxygen in the presence of hypoxic cells.

The GR-ARA1 product has been developed with the aim of increasing tissue oxygenation and treating chronic genetic diseases characterised by hypoxia or severe anaemia such as sickle cell anaemia or thalassemia.

GR-ARA1 was also developed as an adjuvant treatment to the radiotherapy of resistant hypoxic tumours such as glioblastoma or tumours of the head and neck.

http://www.erytech.com/

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