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With the goal of helping the scientific community in the fight against COVID-19, BNY Mellon has generously awarded a $200,000 grant to Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute (LFKRI) Investigators Cheryl Lobo, PhD and Karina Yazdanbakhsh, PhD to study COVID-19 immunity in patients with sickle cell disease. Sickle cell disease, a genetic red blood cell disorder resulting in hemolytic anemia, affects 100,000 minorities mainly African Americans in the U.S. and millions worldwide. Patients with sickle cell disease are at high risk of infections, and previous studies conducted by LFKRI investigators have shown that some of these patients have an altered immune system which may explain why they get infected so readily. 

The funded study will examine the immunological response to COVID-19 in infected patients with sickle cell disease, focusing on patients B cells and T cells, immune cells at the forefront of our defense against fighting infections. Specifically, the investigators will monitor the patients with compromised B cells and T cells who they suspect will not be able to develop strong and long-lasting immune response against COVID-19 and as a result they will be not only succumb to the infection but will be at risk of re-infections with COVID-19. Ultimately, the goal of the study is to develop tests that can predict in advance high-risk patients with sickle cell disease who we need to focus on to protect against COVID-19 as well as to develop approaches to protect them from the disease.

Thank you BNY Mellon and congratulations Drs. Lobo and Yazdanbakhsh!