Novel target for Sickle Cell Disease & other haemolytic anaemias

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Sickle red blood cells
Sickle red blood cells

University: University of Aberdeen

Sector(s): Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals, Life Sciences

About Opportunity:

Patients suffering from haemolytic anaemias suffer from low levels of red blood cells caused by accelerated clearance of such cells from the body. Sickle cell anaemia is a common and severe example with particular prevalence amongst people associated with populations of particular geographical locations with a history of malaria. Although stem cell treatment can be curative, a matched donor is required and risks are high. Alternative treatments that aid in management of haemolytic anaemias remain desperately needed.

University of Aberdeen researchers led by Professor Mark Vickers and Professor Robert Barker, studying efferocytosis (the disposal of old and damaged cells by the immune system) have discovered a novel mechanism by which old and damaged red blood cells are removed by macrophages. This offers a novel therapeutic approach to treat haemolytic anaemias and also shows potential utility for protection of cells in other areas such as neuro-degenerative diseases.

In vitro proof of concept demonstration of the technology has been achieved with efferocytosis of damaged or diseased red blood cells by macrophages shown to be prevented in vitro by use of decoy ligands, antibodies and siRNA approaches targeting the novel cell ligand

Key Benefits:

  • Identified target antigen is accessible for therapeutic intervention
  • Target expressed on diseased or damaged red blood cells
  • Can be used as a diagnostic to ascertain sickle cell disease severity and guide treatment
  • Potential for other areas such as neuro- degenerative diseases


  • Novel treatments for haemolytic anaemias
  • Potentially applicable to neuro-degenerative diseases

IP Status:

A priority patent application covering the core concepts was filed on 31st October 2017 (UK application number 1717977.1)

Further information is available under CDA with the University keen to engage with parties interested in development and licensing of the technology.


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