Sickle Cell Disease

Can new treatments lead to a possible cure?

2021/01/20

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited disease that affects red blood cells with an abnormal version of hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen throughout the body.1 Red blood cells with normal hemoglobin are usually round in shape and flexible. A person with sickle cell disease has sickle, or crescent moon-shaped, red blood cells as a result of the altered hemoglobin known as hemoglobin S. These abnormally shaped cells become sticky and rigid, clogging blood vessels and making it difficult for them to carry oxygen to other parts of the body. Sickle cells die prematurely as well, causing a continuous shortage of red blood cells.

Sickle cell anemia is the most severe form of all the types of sickle cell disease. When a child inherits both sickle cell “S” genes, one from each parent, then he or she will have the disorder. This form has generally been considered uninsurable for life insurance due to its chronicity as well as lack of curable treatments. Conversely, receiving only one gene from a parent means that the child has what is known as sickle cell trait, a much more benign disease and often insurable at favorable rates.2

This article by Munich Re Life US discusses the basics of SCD and explores different forms of treatment and considerations for insurers.

1 What Is Sickle Cell Disease?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21 Oct. 2019, www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/sicklecell/facts.html 2 “What Is Sickle Cell Anemia?” Sickle Cell Anemia News, BioNews Services, LLC, 2019, www.sicklecellanemianews.com/what-is-sickle-cell-anemia/
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Rhonda Brantley
Senior Underwriter
Underwriting Services