Warrior Scientists Of Indian Origin
Sickle cell disease is a hereditary disease caused by mutations in one of the genes that make the hemoglobin. The mutation causes the red blood cells to take on an unusual sickle shape (crescent shape). The symptoms of sickle cell disease are caused by the sickling of red blood cells. When red blood cells sickle, they break down prematurely that leads to anemia. Anemia can cause shortness of breath, fatigue, and delayed growth and development in children
During his visit to Kyoto, Japan Prime Minister Narendra Modi spent a good deal of time with the Japanese stem cell scientist and Nobel Laureate Prof. Shinya Yamanaka in order to better understand stem-cell and its potential in Indian health and well-being. During this interaction, PM Modi asked Prof. Yamanaka whether he could solve blood related disease-Sickle Cell Anemia, one of the devastating diseases that mainly hit the adivasi community of India.
Suffering from Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) has been in Mr. Modi’s mind since he was the Chief Minister of Gujrat. SCD is prevalent in Maharastra, Gujrat, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Chhattisgarh states of India. SCD is a disease caused by adaptive mutation of hemoglobin challenged by the malaria parasites.
What is Sickle Cell Disease?
Sickle cell disease is a hereditary disease caused by mutations in one of the genes that make the hemoglobin. The mutation causes the red blood cells to take on an unusual sickle shape (crescent shape). The symptoms of sickle cell disease are caused by the sickling of red blood cells. When red blood cells sickle, they break down prematurely that leads to anemia. Anemia can cause shortness of breath, fatigue, and delayed growth and development in children. The rapid breakdown of red blood cells may also cause yellowing of the eyes and skin, which are signs of jaundice. Sickled red blood cells that are stiff and inflexible get stuck in small blood vessels called capillaries—which can be a very painful episode. These cells deprive tissues and organs of oxygen-rich blood and can lead to organ damage, especially in the lungs, kidneys, spleen, and brain. In short, an individual with SCD cannot hold oxygen in their blood efficiently and thus all sort of complication, more visibly the excruciating pain the carrier of SCD gene goes through their life.
As SCD is a poor-person’s disease, attention to it is limited. The heavyweights of the pharmaceutical industry as well as the scientifically advanced nations have paid meager attention for the cure of SCD. A few scientific scholars and entrepreneurs, who have taken on this disease out of conviction and as mission, faced with difficult journey due to lack of funding support from the conventional investors (venture capitalists and angel investors). Dr. Narayan Baidya and Dr. Ramesh Pandey, however, did not shy away from the challenges that SCD has to offer in defeating it. They joined hands to solve the problem in 2011. They are on the path to bring an indigenous solution to this problem in an Indian-way based on traditional wisdom and contemporary sciences.
Why are they so sure? Because Dr. Pandey has delivered a drug for SCD to the Nigeria’s President, one of the heaviest hit nation by SCD in the world, based on Nigeria’s indigenous ingredient. This is very important to understand why SCD has to be an indigenous solution (a solution of the land). As SCD is a disease of the poor and as it is caused by a genetic mutation (permanent disease), a management of the symptoms and mitigation of the ill effect can only be handled. Thus, an individual with SCD has to take drugs for life. Therefore, availability and cost of the medicine is the key to success in winning the war against SCD. Moreover, SCD drug should not have long-term side effects. This is one big problem to tackle unless one knows traditional wisdom and contemporary science, and that’s where Dr. Baidya (a descendant of the Vaidya family of India) with strong scientific background, and Dr. Pandey, a developer multiple drugs in infection and cancer of diseases, with strong background in Uttarakhand’s traditional medicine, paired up to solve India’s SCD problem.
They wish to deliver a drug within 24 months with a nominal support from the PM Modi’s administration. This warrior team is working for the drug that incorporates Indian indigenous materials and affordable by the economically disadvantageous population of India and elsewhere in the world. By bringing a solution for the SCD problem in India, PM Modi could solve a larger problem of the world by helping approximately 1,000,000 individuals in India, over 100,000 individuals in Middle East, and 12,000,000 individuals in sub-Saharan Africa who are suffering from SCD.
By Narayan Baidya