LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - "I don't want anybody to look down on me just because I have a disease," Marcel Hill explains. It is a disease that has affected Marcel Hill since birth. Hill continues, "If it's real bad, sometimes it can last from up to a week to months."
A severe pain that can only be explained by someone who has the disease. "It feels like someone is hitting you with a bat, over and over, repeatedly," Hill described.
Marcel Hill is one of an estimated 100,000 Americans living with sickle cell anemia. Sickle cell is a genetic disorder that causes the red blood cells to be abnormally shaped and get stuck inside blood vessels, making it hard to deliver oxygen throughout the body. Hill says, "The main thing is drink a lot of fluids and take you daily medications and stay on top of your Hydroxyurea, which is sickle cell medicine."
Since birth, those have been the only options for Hill and many others suffering from the disease. But now Selexys Pharmaceuticals is conducting research where they are testing an antibody to reduce or prevent the occurrence of pain associated with sickle cell. The company has partnered with 70 health care facilities in the country; two of them are in Little Rock.
Dr. Derek Lewis said, "If we can do something to cut down on ER visits, cut down on hospitalizations," it would be life changing for those living with the disease. Dr. Lewis is a physician at the Arkansas Primary Care Clinic and participating in the study.
He said, "If it works out, we have a hopeful tool that we can actually make a better quality of life for patients with sickle cell." A tool that would drastically change Hill's life-for the better. Hill says, "I'm hoping to find a cure. That's my main inspiration. It would really really push me, in a positive way."
The SUSTAIN sickle cell pain crises trial is one year. Selexys Pharmaceuticals hopes to have data from the clinical trial by the end of 2015.
To learn more about Selexys Pharmaceuticals and the SUSTAIN Phase 2 trial click here.