Quantitative prediction of erythrocyte sickling for the development of advanced sickle cell therapies

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Science Advances  21 Aug 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 8, eaax3905
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aax3905


Sickle cell disease is induced by a mutation that converts normal adult hemoglobin to sickle hemoglobin (HbS) and engenders intracellular polymerization of deoxy-HbS and erythrocyte sickling. Development of anti-sickling therapies requires quantitative understanding of HbS polymerization kinetics under organ-specific conditions, which are difficult to assess with existing experimental techniques. Thus, we developed a kinetic model based on the classical nucleation theory to examine the effectiveness of potential anti-sickling drug candidates. We validated this model by comparing its predictability against prior in vivo and in vitro experimental results. We used the model to quantify the efficacy of sickling inhibitors and obtain results consistent with recent screening assays. Global sensitivity analysis on the kinetic parameters in the model revealed that the solubility, nucleation rate prefactor, and oxygen affinity are quantities that dictate HbS polymerization. This finding provides quantitative guidelines for the discovery of intracellular processes to be targeted by sickling inhibitors.

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