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Addressing a Complex World of Pain in a Single Gene Difference


A single letter difference in a single gene, inherited from both parents, spells a lifetime of anemia and pain for 20 million people, mostly of African ancestry, worldwide. Sickle cell disease (SCD) causes red blood cells to assume a sickle shape and jam in capillaries, cutting off oxygen to lungs, brain, bones and other organs. Despite the single genetic origin of SCD, each person’s disease experience and even life expectancy depend upon where they live, and the social, physical and environmental factors they encounter.

Now, a new review published by Wiley in the journal Advanced Genetics proposes that it is not only possible and necessary to analyze all these influences to understand disparities in experience and treatment of this disease, but that this approach will advance understanding and healthcare for all diseases with a hereditary component. The research and this new perspective stems from review of existing research on SCD together with preliminary data collected by an international collaboration studying the relationships of sociodemographic, clinical, genetic, and environmental factors to pain among adults with SCD from three countries in Africa and the African Diaspora – Cameroon, Jamaica, and the United States.

SCD is the first molecular disease and may become the first to have an approved molecular cure from gene editing. In the meantime, we must continue to scale up efforts to develop new tools and techniques for reducing and preventing complications in the millions of people worldwide suffering from SCD, most of whom are unlikely to have immediate access to high-tech cures when they become available. The unmet needs of people with SCD are prevalent, even in European and North American countries. The authors write, “large national and multinational integrative studies are needed to better understand SCD globally and catalyze the development, translation, and implementation of locally-appropriate interventions and policies.”

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About Journal

Advanced Genetics (formerly Genetics & Genomics Next) is an Open Research journal from Wiley, published online using the CC BY 4.0 open attribution license to encourage maximum credit and rapid creative reuse of all scholarly work. We are delighted to receive original research Articles, Reviews, Resources, Analysis and Perspectives in the areas of human, animal, plant and microbial genetics, genomics and epigenomics, selecting those reports for peer review that we judge editorially to have the highest research utility, ethical standards and societal impact. Expert peer reviewers will rapidly aid the authors to meet current community standards for reproducible research via our process of transparent peer review and editorial decision making. Referee credit is currently awarded via Publons. Data citation and a data availability declaration are mandatory. Author and dataset and consortium roles can be described via the CRediT contributor taxonomy.  All editorial decisions are made by a team of full-time professional editors, all with a PhD and extensive research experience.  The Advisory Board provides advice and guidance to the Journal's mission and practices.  The ultimate direction of the Journal is made by the in-house Editors and Wiley publishing.  

About Wiley

Wiley drives the world forward with research and education. Through publishing, platforms and services, we help students, researchers, universities, and corporations to achieve their goals in an ever-changing world. For more than 200 years, we have delivered consistent performance to all of our stakeholders. The Company's website can be accessed at

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