Vanderbilt researchers receive grant to study sickle cell disease among children in Nigeria

A team of Vanderbilt researchers recently received a $281,490 award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fund a project studying stroke prevention among children with sickle cell disease in Nigeria.

Dr. Muktar Aliyu

Muktar Aliyu, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., Michael DeBaun M.D., Lori Jordan, Ph.D. and colleagues will collaborate on this two-year project.

Sickle cell disease is the most common cause of stroke in children, resulting in considerable morbidity among affected children. Nigeria carries the largest burden of the disease worldwide. Each year, more children are born with sickle cell disease in Nigeria than the current number of children and adults with sickle cell disease in the U.S. and U.K combined. The standard therapy for primary stroke prevention in these high-risk children with sickle cell disease (monthly blood transfusions) is not available in developing countries, such as Nigeria and other West African nations. A successful trial of hydroxyurea for primary stroke prevention in sickle cell disease could provide evidence for an alternative approach to monthly blood transfusions in cases where safe blood services are not readily accessible. This is the first NIH sponsored sickle cell disease trial in West Africa.

This feasibility study will investigate the effectiveness of hydroxyurea for primary stroke prevention in Nigerian children with sickle cell anemia (SCA). These data will be used to design a definitive phase III trial. The study will take place in Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Nigeria. Dr. Najibah Galadanchi (hematologist) will be the lead site investigator for the trial. Other investigators include Bruce Compas, Ph.D. (Psychology-Vanderbilt), Yu Shyr, Ph.D. (Biostatistics-Vanderbilt), Dr. Fenella Kirkham (University College, London) and Kathleen Neville, M.D. (Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City).

The study (NIH grant No. 1R21NS080639-01) will begin enrolling patients in January 2013.

Read additional coverage of the story in the VUMC Reporter.