Program aims to increase access to information on sickle cell carrier status, and offer resources to individuals with sickle cell trait and sickle cell disease
Atlanta, Georgia – [April 28, 2023] Want to know your ancestors’ medical history and whether you carry genetic variants associated with sickle cell disease?
Well, now you can.
23andMe Holding Co. (23andMe), a leading human genetics and biopharmaceutical company, Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM), and the Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia (SCFG) announced the launch of the Sickle Cell Carrier Status Awareness Program to help increase access to sickle cell carrier status information, raise awareness of sickle cell disease (SCD), and offer resources for individuals with sickle cell trait and SCD.
The event was held on the campus of Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta where officials offered a demonstration session.
In the first such collaboration between a genetic testing company and a Historically Black College and University (HBCU), 23andMe will offer its Health+Ancestry DNA testing kits at no cost to MSM students, faculty and staff, providing individuals the opportunity to learn more about their ancestral heritage and access over 65 Health reports and features, including a Carrier Status report on sickle cell anemia. Program participants will also be offered counseling by the Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia after receiving their 23andMe results.
“The Sickle Cell Awareness Program, 23andMe, sponsored by Morehouse School of Medicine and the Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia, Inc. is an exceptional, sorely needed program,” said SCFG Director of Advocacy and Hemoglobinopathy Counselor Jackie George. “The inaugural event was very informative. The information shared made the participants aware of the fact that a great deal of sickle cell education for parents, warriors, current and upcoming healthcare providers, and the general public is still needed. In addition, the session made us aware of the need for increased participation in the Black community in research and clinical trials.” This is just the latest collaboration SCFG has undertaken in its mission to engage and educate the community about sickle cell.
“We are thrilled to partner with Morehouse School of Medicine and 23andMe on this project and the opportunity it affords for individuals to know and understand their sickle cell status,” said SCFG Programs and Operations Director Jeanette Nu’Man. “This is consistent with our statewide focus on raising awareness.”
23andMe’s FDA-authorized Sickle Cell Anemia Carrier Status report tests for the HbS variant in the HBB gene, which is linked to sickle cell anemia and other forms of sickle cell disease. Three-hundred-million people worldwide and one in thirteen Black or African Americans in the United States are carriers for sickle cell anemia or have sickle cell trait (SCT).
“Our goal at 23andMe is to empower people through access to their genetic data, enabling consumers to make better, more informed decisions about their health,” said Joyce Tung, Vice President, Research at 23andMe. “In addition to educating more people on their carrier status, genetic health risks and potential risks for family members, we believe this collaboration can contribute to more equitable research in, and product development for, groups of non-European ancestry.”
“The collaboration between Morehouse School of Medicine, 23andMe, and the Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia offers the potential for impact at scale,” said Herman Taylor, MD, endowed professor and director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute (CVRI) at Morehouse. “Working together, we have the opportunity to share scientific and health insights for diseases that impact those in the Black community at higher rates, allowing individuals to address health risks early and prevent disease.”
Last updated on April 30, 2023