A Researcher doing research on sickle cell disease.

Transformative Impact: Global Patient Registries In Advancing Sickle Cell Research And Gene Therapies

Source: Western Pennsylvania Healthcare News

The recent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of cell-based gene therapies for Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) marks a groundbreaking milestone in the field of hematology. These therapies offer a potential cure for a condition that has long posed significant health challenges. However, alongside their promise, these gene therapies come with a hefty price tag.

This article delves into the specifics of these FDA approvals, shedding light on the transformative potential of these therapies while acknowledging the economic considerations and challenges associated with their high costs.

The Impact Of FDA-Approved Cell-Based Gene Therapies For Sickle Cell Disease (SCD)

In December 2023, the Food and Drug Administration approved two milestone treatments, Casgevy and Lyfgenia, representing the first cell-based gene therapies for the treatment of sickle cell disease (SCD) in patients 12 years and older. (1)

These approvals have ushered in a new era in SCD treatment, introducing novel cell-based gene therapies designed to address the underlying genetic mutations causing this debilitating condition. This therapy is LentiGlobin, a groundbreaking treatment that modifies patients’ hematopoietic stem cells to produce functional hemoglobin. Another notable approval is Zynteglo, a gene therapy that similarly aims to correct the genetic defects responsible for SCD.

While these therapies hold immense promise for providing a potential cure for SCD, their transformative potential is tempered by substantial costs. As of now, LentiGlobin is reported to have a price tag exceeding $2 million per treatment, making it one of the most expensive medical interventions globally. (2)

Zynteglo also comes with a significant cost, although the exact figure may vary based on factors such as healthcare systems, insurance coverage, and negotiations between manufacturers and payers. The high costs associated with these gene therapies pose economic challenges, raising questions about accessibility, reimbursement, and the overall sustainability of these groundbreaking treatments.

Global Patient Registries Revolutionize Sickle Cell Research And Gene Therapies

In the dynamic landscape of SCD research and gene therapies, the imperative role of global patient registries comes to the forefront. These registries, transcending geographical boundaries, serve as pivotal instruments in reshaping the approach to understanding and treating SCD.

Their significance extends beyond conventional data collection, delving into the core of inclusivity in research and clinical trials. By fostering a global perspective, these registries facilitate comprehension of the intricate genetic factors underpinning SCD and the diverse responses exhibited across varied populations. This understanding of global patient registries acts as a catalyst for reducing research costs and optimizing the overall efficacy of gene therapies. Their transformative impact lies in offering a comprehensive, holistic, and cost-effective platform that revolutionizes the trajectory of SCD research and therapeutic development, steering it toward a more equitable and inclusive future. (3)

Affordable Platforms And Equitable Access

The essence of creating user-friendly and affordable platforms for patient registries lies in dismantling barriers to inclusivity and fostering the success of global inclusion endeavors. A prime example of this is the Global Sickle Cell Disease Network (GSCDN), which employs a user-centric approach. The GSCDN ensures ease of use for both patients and healthcare providers, encouraging active participation in data sharing. (4) Its intuitive design facilitates the collection of diverse data points, accommodating the inherent disease heterogeneity present in various populations.

Global Patient Registries must be renowned for their accessibility and functionality. Employing a patient-centric interface empowers individuals to contribute their health data securely. This not only enhances inclusivity in research but also serves as a testament to the impact of user-friendly platforms in overcoming traditional barriers.

These platforms, driven by the principles of user-friendliness and affordability, play a pivotal role in promoting equitable access to advancements in SCD research. By actively engaging diverse populations, they contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of the disease’s intricacies. The cost-effectiveness of registry-based trials becomes apparent when contrasting them with traditional methods, making these platforms indispensable tools for steering SCD research toward a more accessible and impactful future.

Read more: Bridging the Diversity Disparity: Global Patient Registries Revolutionize Sickle Cell Research

Fostering Global Collaboration And Government Cooperation

Addressing the inherent biases in datasets and ensuring affordable access to gene therapy innovations necessitates a collaborative, global effort that transcends national borders. An exemplary illustration of this collaborative approach is the International Rare Diseases Research Consortium (IRDiRC). (5) This global initiative brings together researchers, clinicians, and policymakers from various countries to collectively tackle challenges in rare diseases, including SCD. By fostering international collaboration, datasets are not confined to a specific geographic or demographic subset, mitigating biases and creating a more representative pool of information.

Governmental cooperation plays a pivotal role in supporting these global initiatives. For instance, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States actively collaborates with international partners on research initiatives related to SCD. Such collaboration ensures that the benefits of gene therapies are not limited to specific regions or populations but are accessible on a broader scale.


In summary, a collective and coordinated approach, as demonstrated by organizations and collaborative efforts between governments, is crucial for overcoming biases in datasets and making gene therapy innovations for SCD accessible to diverse populations globally. This concerted global effort not only addresses the challenges associated with biased datasets but also ensures that advancements in gene therapies reach those who need them the most, regardless of geographical or socio-economic constraints.


1. FDA. FDA Approves First Gene Therapies to Treat Patients with Sickle Cell Disease [Internet]. FDA. 2023. Available from: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-gene-therapies-treat-patients-sickle-cell-disease

2. Fattizzo B, Motta I. Rise of the planet of rare anemias: An update on emerging treatment strategies. Frontiers in Medicine. 2023 Jan 9;9.

3. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice; Committee on Addressing Sickle Cell Disease: A Strategic Plan and Blueprint for Action. Addressing Sickle Cell Disease: A Strategic Plan and Blueprint for Action [Internet]. Martinez RM, Osei-Anto HA, McCormick M, editors. PubMed. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2020. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK566467/

4. Global Sickle Cell Disease Network- Home [Internet]. GlobalSCDNetwork. Available from: https://www.globalsicklecelldisease.org/

5. Lochmüller H, Torrent i Farnell J, Le Cam Y, Jonker AH, Lau LP, Baynam G, et al. The International Rare Diseases Research Consortium: Policies and Guidelines to maximize impact. European Journal of Human Genetics. 2017 Nov 20;25(12):1293–302.