For sickle cell anemia patients who are under age 20, stroke is a major risk factor. In April's issue of the journal Nature Genetics, a new research study proposed a model to predict stroke. Compared to the model that is currently in use, this new model can identify the risk of stroke for sickle cell anemia patients more accurately and faster, and it can be a useful post-prediction experiment.

In order to find the genes and clinical factors that are influential of the risk of stroke, Dr Paola Sebastiani, Dr Marco Ramoni and their colleagues have done analysis on 235 SNPs of 80 candidates from 1,398 sickle cell anemia patients. They tested the validity of this model on 114 independent individuals, and the accuracy of this model for predicting stroke is 98.2%. The study also found that the interaction of 25 SNPs in 11 genes with 4 clinical factors greatly influenced the risk of stroke. These factors also contain some factors that are previously identified as associated with stroke in normal people, including three genes in the TGF-beta pathway and SELP. The evidence provided by this new research shows that the risk of stroke is a complex problem that involves multiple genes and clinical factors.

Currently TCD is often used to predict the risk of stroke for children and young adults with sickle cell anemia, but as a way of predicting stroke, this method is very limited since only 10% of the patients with abnormal TCD levels develop stroke, whereas some patients with normal TCD levels also have stroke.

From Nature Biotechnology Asia (April 2005). Translation: Ling Wang, Boston University