The Sickle Cell Cure Foundation Receives $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations Grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for Innovative Global Health Research

The Sickle Cell Cure Foundation, Inc. (SCCF), announced today that it has received a US$100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The grant will support an innovative global health research project conducted by Robert H. Broyles, Ph.D., SCCF President, titled “Malaria Stopped by a Human Protein Therapeutic.”

Dr. Broyles’ project is one of 78 grants announced by the Gates Foundation in the fourth funding round of Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative to help scientists around the world explore bold and largely unproven ways to improve health in developing countries. The grants were provided to scientists in 18 countries on six continents.

To receive funding, Dr. Broyles showed in a two-page application how his idea falls outside current scientific paradigms and might lead to significant advances in global health. The initiative is highly competitive, receiving almost 2,700 proposals in this round.

The research of Dr. Broyles and The Sickle Cell Cure Foundation, Inc., of Oklahoma City. will build on the recent discovery that elevated fetal hemoglobin (HbF), which alleviates sickle cell disease, can also confer malaria resistance. Broyles and his team will test the ability of a stable human protein to reactivate a silent gene that encodes for HbF, making red blood cells inhospitable to malaria parasites. If successful, the idea is to target the therapy in the host to reduce malaria infections.
Dr. Broyles earned the Ph.D. degree in biochemistry from Wake Forest University Medical Center, Winston-Salem, N.C., did postdoctoral research at Florida State University, has held faculty positions at the University of Wisconsin -Milwaukee and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, and has served as a visiting research scientist at the National Institutes of Health, the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, and the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. In 2006, Dr. Broyles founded The Sickle Cell Cure Foundation, Inc. (SCCF), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit research foundation dedicated to a universal cure for sickle cell and related diseases.
“We have discovered a way of shutting off the sickle cell gene and reactivating a fetal hemoglobin gene in its place, a switch known to stop all the bad, deadly manifestations of SCD,” says Broyles. “The realization that this same manipulation will make people resistant to malaria is even more exciting.”

“The winners of these grants show the bold thinking we need to tackle some of the world’s greatest health challenges,” said Dr. Tachi Yamada, president of the Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program. “I’m excited about their ideas and look forward to seeing some of these exploratory projects turn into life-saving breakthroughs.”

About Grand Challenges Explorations

Grand Challenges Explorations is a five-year, $100 million initiative of the Gates Foundation to promote innovation in global health. The program uses an agile, streamlined grant process – applications are limited to two pages, and preliminary data are not required. Proposals are reviewed and selected by a committee of foundation staff and external experts, and grant decisions are made within approximately three months of the close of the funding round.

Applications for the current round of Grand Challenges Explorations are being accepted through May 19, 2010. Grant application instructions, including the list of topics for which proposals are currently being accepted, are available at http://www.grandchallenges.org/explorations.

Comments

  1. Great News!

  2. Iman Ekong says:

    i have sickle cell anemia and i have lived with it for 28yrs.there is little or no support or advocacy group in Nigeria.can your group come to our aid be our voice in Nigeria.This is such good job you are doing keep it up

    • Dear Iman Ekong,

      I am sorry to take so long to answer. We are a research foundation; and this is the first year in our 4 1/2-year existance that our research has received significant funding, thanks to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. So, I have been spending most of my time in the lab. Our animal trials in mice got underway November 1, 2010. We hope to start clinical trials in humans with sickle cell within this year (2011), and one of the places we would like to start trials is Nigeria. We will need people like you to form support groups while we concentrate on delivery of the medicines. I hope that you continue to be as healthy as possible with the sickle cell until better treatments arrive. Thank you very much for your praise and interest.

      Sincerely,
      Robert H. Broyles, PhD
      SCCF President

  3. Request of grants for Sickle Cell Counseling and research Centre of India

    Our NGO is a tribal people`s non-profitable NGO working for tribal people living in the remote tribal areas. We have no financial source from other side, running this NGO since 2001 on the principle of “pay back to societies”. We are awaking the people on their human rights, preservative and prevent the cultural identity, costumes, traditions, traditionally land rights. We represented in sub-commission of Human Rights UNO in 2002 and represented before UNO international conference on the issue of Racial Discrimination in 2000. We implemented the UNO project successfully during the year of 2005 in Maharashtra Project No. 103 {P} on eve of the Celebration of “International Decade of World`s indigenous People”. In view of the above we have arranged four international conference in following Dist. in Maharashtra as below.

    A] March 2005 Wardha, B] June 2005 Nanurbar, C] Oct. 2005 Nashik, D] Dec 2005 Nagpur.

    We are arranging the seminars, conferences, worships, for tribal officers, social workers, doctors, Engineers, thinkers, religious workers, political leaders , women’s as well as for Youth [ Boys and girls] we arranges the training program. cadre camps, seminars worships etc on the above subjects since 2001 in Nagpur, Chandrapur, Gadchiroli, Yevatmal, Amravati, Nandurbar, Nashik, Dhule, Bhandara Dists and the inter areas of the above Dist. We are totally devoted for tribal communities. Thousands of educated youth male/ females who are ready to work with our NGO
    Now we are focusing on the issues of sickle cell anemia in tribal areas
    The Maharashtra State, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh of Central India, there are maximum population of Scheduled tribes and Scheduled Castes residing in slum and remote tribal areas of Tribal Dists. are suffering from Sickle Cell anemia. Due to lack of education / poor financial conditions and backwardness amongst these communities, thousands of tribal children / youth are dying in every year.
    Position of sickle Cell anemia
    Pattern…1] AS Pattern, 2] SS positive 3] Thalassemia
    Dying percentages..1] Age group 2 years 15 years 50%
    2] Age group 16years 25 years 30%
    3] Age group 2 years 15 years 50%
    Confirmation of pattern- Through Electro forces machine.
    Treatment– 1] No perfect treatment only preventive factors observing
    2] Folic cossets tab, only
    3] Blood Transmission
    Backgrounds… Being a genetic problem, out of two cores population ST/SC ,one cores people are suffering from sickle cell anemia. There is no awareness about the deceased. In the Maharashtra State there are thousands of children dying due to malnutrition and starvation with sickle cell anemia deceased. These people are not getting the magicians and nutrition. There is no special clinics, medicals, hospital for taking the treatment on sickle cell. Due to blind faith in the tribal communities they prepared for treatment through traditional practitioners of rural areas instead of qualified doctors.
    Our Requirements 1] Education and awareness up to grass root level
    2] Counseling Centers in every village
    3] Clinics up to block levels
    4] Hospitals up to Tahsils and Dist. Level
    5] Laboratories, Electro force Machine, Blood testing instruments,
    6] Pathology
    7] Blood bank
    Programs…- Sickle cell testing camps, Blood donation camps, Awareness and meetings, public meetings, workshops. Conferences
    Involvements-……. Doctors, Social workers, and affected population.
    Connectivity- … These people will connect directly with counseling centers with international Communities.
    Request-…
    1] Being a tribal people non- profitable NGO we need of funds / grants to starts the counseling centers, clinic’s, hospital, researching centers, and formation of blood banks and laboratories, pathology etc.
    2] We have no FCRA registration.
    3] We can submit our project to your honor if it will approve in future.
    4] We need of consent latter from your end that our project can be accepted in
    future if project will entitle and fulfillment of terms and conditions.
    It is therefore, request your honor to kindly allow us to submit the project title of “Sickle Cell Counseling and research Centre of India” for approval of grants. On consent letter from your honor, we can enable to submit the application before Home Ministry of India to obtain the prior permission to obtain the foreign grant being a sensitive and un-touch subject in the tribal areas of Maharashtra State of India.

    Thanking You,

    Yours Sincerely,

    Madavi L K
    President
    Mulnivasi Mukti Manch
    300 NIT Plot, Nari Lay Out,
    Ring Road, Nagpur..440026
    Ph No.0917122630991, Mobile. 09422191072

    • Your Excellency Madavi L K, President, Mulnivasi Mukti Manch, Nagpur,

      Thank you very much for your long letter and the description of the terrible conditions for sickle cell sufferers there. The best thing that we can do for you and them, the only thing that we can offer, is to push the development of our treatments as fast as possible, and do everything that we can, when the time comes, to make them available to you and the people you describe.

      We are not a grant-making foundation; we are a research foundation. Thus, we have no funds to give out … we, ourselves, must apply to others for grants to support our research. This is very hard since there is very little funding available for sickle cell. We, the Sickle Cell Cure Foundation, are very fortunate to have received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. We are working hard to be in a position to apply for and receive the next level of funding from the Gates Foundation because the additional funding will allow us to begin clinical trials for malaria and sickle cell including sites in Africa, India, and elsewhere.

      I am sorry to be so long in answering. I have been spending almost all of my time in the laboratory, working on the cure, which is where I should be, where I can do the most good.

      Thank you again for your message. Please, please keep us informed of your situation. We wish you the very best.

      Sincerely,
      Robert H. Broyles, PhD
      SCCF President.

  4. Derek Smart says:

    Good day ,

    Will some please call me on this issue of sickle cell. i have good news. my daughter is healed. no more pains and swollen limbs. my nmber is 23233463604. I would like us to share this meaningful medicatication. Or email dsmart@nassitsl.org or derekboboh@yahoo.com.

    Derek

  5. Dear Dr Broyles,

    I was searching the web the other day for potential funding sources for sickle cell research in Sierra Leone, when I came upon the announcement that your organization had won one of the $100,000 Grand Challenges Awards given by the Gates Foundation. I want to congratulate you on the award and on the success of such a brilliant idea in eliciting funds.

    As it happens, the idea is one we ourselves have been contemplating for a couple of years or so and had, in fact, submitted applications entitled “Potential role of HBF as a modifier of malaria severity in infants & Children” to both the NIH and the Gates Foundation in June and December 2009, respectively. Unfortunately we were not successful with either agency. However, it is gratifying that, in your case, a similar idea is now in the exploration phase, and I wish you all the best in this work.

    What we had intended to do and still intend is to examine, at the clinical level, the quantum at which blood HbF begins to provide protection against malaria beyond the age of one year when HbF levels should have declined to their stable minimum values. Such a study should provide data that would be complimentary to your lab research.

    The reason that I write to you is to seek potential collaboration, since Sierra Leone provides a natural laboratory in which the effect of HbF can be probed, and that if at any stage, you require field studies, it would be our pleasure to welcome your group.

    Please visit our website if you have a moment.

    Yours sincerely,

    George T Roberts, MB BS, FRCPC (Hematologist)
    Chairman, Sierra Leone Sickle Cell Disease Society

    • Dear Dr. Roberts,
      I replied to your letter through your personal email. I wish to say here that we are very ninterested in working with you. We hope to start our human clinical trials by mid-2012. Please keep in touch and write to meat my personal email attached to this Comment Reply.
      Many thanks,
      Robert H. Broyles, PhD
      SCCF President/Lead Scientist

  6. Ramnath says:

    Dear Sir,
    myself one of the research student in haemoglobinopathy.
    this is great news for me and my research group.

    Yours faithfully
    Ramnath.
    University of Pune.

    • Dear Ramnath,
      Thank you very much for your comment and encouragement. I also hope that your research is going well. Please check our website every few months. And let me know how your research is going.
      All the best,
      Robert H. Broyles, PhD
      SCCF President/Lead Scientist

  7. Kenneth says:

    hello dr broylesr,
    i am very happy with the work you are doing…. and i am also glad you selected nigeria as one of the sites for your clinical trials as we have the largest prevalence of sickle cell sufferers globally. we run an advocacay and support group on sickle cell disease in nigeria, omega-cares foundation and we will be willing to partner with you when the time comes. more power to your elbow as you continue this humanitarian work.
    kind regards,
    ken

  8. Jessica says:

    I really hope someday the cure will be found.
    I only have the trait but both my brothers have SCD. It has been really sad to see both most of their lives in hospitals. My youngest brother has now lost one of his eye sight, He is only 22 years old. I would give anything to help cure them,I’ve read about bone marrow transplant but we can’t afford any sort of surgery. We only hope for the best. If it happens and they are able to get the cure it can prevent future sadness and hardship in families. I will pray for this to happen.

  9. Dear Dr Robert H Broyles,

    Thank you again for the great work you and The Sickle Cell Cure Foundation are doing. I was on your website and see that you will be starting the ” Human Clinical Trials” very soon, let me give you my congratulations for being at this point already in such a short time. As you knew it already, i am a 28 years old man, living in Haiti and suffer with the sickle cell anemia. I would like to be part of the progress of your research, i know many people here suffering the sickle cell disease and can create a group to help.

    Please write me back and provide me with information about how i can be part of this.

    Sincerely,

    David

    • broylesr says:

      Dear David,

      Thank you for your message. I wish that we were starting clinical trials very soon; but it will still be more than a year away, maybe longer. Why? Lack of funding which slows progress. And it also takes time and money to go through the process of regulatory approvals. I know that sickle cell is a big problem in Haiti. Please do not lose hope.

      All the best,

  10. Greetings, Dr. Boyle. i had contacted you before on this site. keep on he good work. i heard at a time in the news that a particular coffee bean could turn blood group B to blood group O. is this true please? if its true , could the some research be done to find out what can change genotype too. i sincerely pray for a breakthru in sickle cell. its really a teribble ailment. i would gladly volunteer in any help i can offer in the research even for free.
    Thank you.

    • broylesr says:

      Dear Sade, thank you for your message and encouragement. There is no treatment or food or drink that can change your blood group or blood type. The only way to change a genotpye would be gene therapy which is still not possible as a treatment and would be very expensive even if it were available. Our approach does not change the genes but aims at keeping the sickle gene silent with another gene being expressed in its place.

  11. Abel Kakuru says:

    I am excited about the research. I can not wait to see the results as this will be good news especially for malaria endemic countries like Uganda where sickle cell disease is more prevalent.

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