Testing a Low-Dose Anti-inflammatory Drug (Tocilizumab) for Acute Chest Syndrome in Sickle Cell Disease

Chicago, Current Research, Dr. Wesevich, Drug, Health Disparities, Minority/Underserved, Rare, University of Chicago

​Principal Investigator: Dr. Austin Wesevich

Condition: acute chest syndrome in sickle cell disease

Research Description: Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a rare genetic disease that affects red blood cells, predominantly seen in Black patients. Patients with SCD often have various complications, including acute chest syndrome (ACS), a life-threatening condition similar to pneumonia but unique to SCD. ACS is not entirely understood, and there are no curative treatments available. Recent data have suggested that increased interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a component of the inflammation in ACS. Tocilizumab, a drug approved for rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune conditions, targets IL-6 receptors and lowers inflammation. This two-arm, Phase IIA trial, led by Drs. Wesevich, Ratain and Lapping-Carr, will administer low-dose tocilizumab to approximately 70 adult patients with SCD admitted to the University of Chicago with ACS. It is expected that tocilizumab will improve overall clinical outcomes from patients, including oxygen levels, inflammation, and pain. This study includes engagement with both local and national SCD community organizations.

Funding Partners: Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust, Walder Foundation, Adtalem Global Education Foundation, David and Susie Sherman Fund and others

CWR Funding Role: Primary funder

Current Research