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Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) Treatment

Sickle cell disease is a group of blood disorders that affects the hemoglobin in red blood cells. Normal red blood cells are round and flexible. In people with sickle cell disease, a change in hemoglobin causes the red blood cells to become hard, sticky, and shaped like a banana (sickle-shaped).

Sickle cell disease is inherited or passed down in families. About 1 out of 365 Black babies born in the United States has sickle cell disease. It can occur in all races but is most common in people whose ancestors come from Sub-Saharan Africa; Central, South America, and the Caribbean; Middle Eastern countries; India; and Mediterranean countries.

Learn more about sickle cell disease on the Together by St. Jude™ online resource.

Sickle cell disease treatment

Patients with sickle cell disease need lifelong medical care. Treatments for sickle cell disease include:

  • Medicines to help prevent or manage complications
  • Red blood cell transfusions
  • Stem cell (bone marrow) transplant

Researchers are also studying how new gene therapies may be used to treat sickle cell disease.

Sickle cell disease clinical trials

St. Jude offers clinical trials and cancer research studies for children, teens, and young adults with sickle cell disease.

Learn more about clinical research at St. Jude

CASPERKID: Study of Exa-cel in Children with Severe Sickle Cell Disease

Study goal:

The main goal of this study is to see if a single dose of exa-cel allows your child’s body to increase the amount of hemoglobin F while reducing the painful effects of sickle cell disease.


2 to 11 years old

SCCRIP: Sickle Cell Research and Intervention Program

Study goal:

The purpose of this research study is to collect data on sickle cell disease participants from birth to end of life. With these data, researchers will better understand problems caused by sickle cell disease both in children and in adults. 

LEAPS: Understanding Sickle Cell Disease Transition to Adult Care

Study goal:

The main goal of this study is to find out what a successful health care transition looks like and to look at connections between health care transition and factors such as hospitalizations, patients’ disease knowledge and general adjustment. Researchers also want to know how these factors change over time.


16 to 20 years old

BHEEM: Study of BEAM-101 in Patients with Severe Sickle Cell Disease

Study goal:

The main goal of this study is to see if a single dose of BEAM-101 allows your body to increase the amount of hemoglobin F while reducing the painful effects of sickle cell disease.


18 to 35 years old

PMVOCVR: Virtual Reality Therapy for Vaso-Occlusive Crisis in Patients with Sickle Cell Disease

Study goal:

The main goal of this clinical trial is to find out how well virtual reality therapy lessens acute pain in sickle cell patients.


Between 6 and 25 years old

NCBP01: Safety Study of Unlicensed, Investigational Cord Blood Units Manufactured by the NCBP for Unrelated Transplantation

Study goal:

The primary purpose of this study is to examine the safety of administration of the unlicensed investigational NCBP HPC-CORD BLOOD products in a multi-institution setting.

INSIGHT-HD: Investigating the Genetics of Blood Disorders

Study goal:

The main goal of this trial is to collect DNA from individuals with non-cancerous blood diseases and their family members. Researchers will use the DNA to study how genes cause and influence these diseases. All research data will be confidential.

SKITS2: School Readiness Intervention for Sickle Cell Disease

Study goal:

This study will help us find out how to make the intervention program better and test it with a larger group of caregivers and their children.



Sickle cell disease care at St. Jude

St. Jude provides the highest quality of care for patients with sickle cell disease:

  • Scientists at St. Jude have studied sickle cell disease since the hospital first opened in 1962. The first research grant received by the hospital was for the study of sickle cell disease.
  • In 1983, a St. Jude patient was the first in the world to be cured of sickle cell disease through a bone marrow transplant. Although a transplant is a cure, it is not an easy cure, and it can have complications. St. Jude continues to research alternate approaches to cure children with sickle cell disease.
  • St. Jude scientists and doctors work together to learn more about sickle cell disease. These findings can lead to new and better treatments.
  • St. Jude also develops collaborative research partnerships with the NIH and other institutions throughout the world.
  • The Sickle Cell Clinical Research and Intervention Program studies the long-term effects of sickle cell disease and its treatments. Results from the study will help scientists design new sickle cell disease treatments.
  • Our multi-disciplinary team includes physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurse case managers, clinic nurses, social workers, academic coordinators, child life specialists, pharmacists, psychologists, genetic counselors, and other specialists.
  • St. Jude has a large outpatient clinic setting with a dedicated area for children with sickle cell disease. Sickle cell clinics at St. Jude are divided into age-based clinics: Infant/Toddler; School-Age; Teen Clinic; and a collaborative Transition Clinic at the adult comprehensive sickle cell center.

Educational resources for sickle cell disease

The St. Jude Hematology Program offers e-learning modules and other ways to obtain literature about sickle cell disease and other hematological disorders. Learn more.

A statue of children running and holding hands

Seeking treatment at St. Jude

Patients accepted to St. Jude must have a disease we treat and must be referred by a physician or other qualified medical professional. We accept most patients based on their ability to enroll in an open clinical trial.

How to seek treatment

Contact the Physician / Patient Referral Office

Call: 1-888-226-4343 (toll-free) or 901-595-4055 (local)  | Fax: 901-595-4011 | Email: | 24-hour pager: 1-800-349-4334


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