Bircu Publisher: Sickle Cell Disease, a New Look At An Orphan Disease

Artikel97 Dilihat

Koto-Te-Nyiwa Jean-Paul Ngbolua (PhD)
Branch Manager of BIRCU Publisher in Congo
Department of Biology, University of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo


Sickle cell disease or SS anaemia is a haemoglobinopathy, i.e. a blood disease linked to the presence of abnormal haemoglobin called haemoglobin S. It is the most common genetic disease in the world and is a major public health problem in endemic regions: it affects about 50 million people worldwide. Africa is the most affected part of the world, with a frequency of carriers of the sickle cell trait that can reach 40% in Central Africa.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, about 2% of the population are homozygous for SS and the disease is not well known among the population, which justifies the high mortality rate in resource-poor settings. This disease modifies the shape of the red blood cells into a sickle, which can block blood vessels and thus cause very painful attacks.

Current therapies are limited, expensive and not accessible to low-income populations. For this reason, many alternative strategies for the management of sickle cell disease have been developed to try to overcome these difficulties.

These attempts use medicinal plants and improved traditional medicines. Indeed, several scientific studies have shown that among the plants cited in traditional medicine as being able to treat SS anaemia, a good number have shown antifalcaemic activity in vitro.

These bioactive medicinal plants also have a number of advantages in that they are readily available and can be directly advised to patients as alicaments. The use of edible plants with anti-sickle cell properties such as Cajanus cajan (Wandu in Kikongo), Ipomea batatas (Sweet potato), Ocimum basilicum (Lumba lumba in Lingala), Vigna unguiculata (Mbuengi or Cowpea), etc., is an interesting approach as they can be integrated into the daily diet of patients suffering from this chronic disease. DREPANOALPHA (an anti-sickle cell drug developed by the team of Professor Pius T.

Mpiana of the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Kinshasa), thanks to rigorous multicentre scientific studies (University of Kinshasa, University of Bukavu, University of Gbado-Lite, Simon Kimbangu University and University of Mons/Belgium), is giving rise to hope for the management of sickle cell disease.

Traditional medicine based on scientific evidence is now becoming a complementary medicine to modern medicine, as it is capable of treating sickle cell disease, a disease that, if left untreated, kills one in two children before the age of five.

An innovative local solution integrating renewed traditional medicine with modern medicine for the treatment of sickle cell disease is therefore possible and should be encouraged in the context of the application of mixed medicine for sustainable development.

This approach thus makes it possible to achieve sustainable development goal 3 (good health & well-being) while guaranteeing access to treatment.(