Sickle cell disease is a rare genetic disorder that largely affects African, Caribbean, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, Asian, Indian, and Mediterranean communities. Around 17 million people live with it, while around 300.000 kids are born with sickle cell disease every year.

It is most prevalent in central Africa, but around 100.000 people in the United States and around 68.000 people in Europe live with sickle cell disease. It is the most widespread genetic disorder in the United Kingdom, with the number of affected people increasing faster than any other genetic disorder.

Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a seriously debilitating, life-threatening and life shortening inherited haematological disease. 

People living with SCD experience vaso-occlusive crisis which causes severe pain, multi-organ damages, a significantly higher risk of strokes from a very young age and frequent infections. 

SCD is characterised by a change in the shape of the red blood cells from a smooth donut-shape cell into a half-moon or ‘sickle’ shape. The distortion of the cells is caused by the presence of an abnormal haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is the protein within the red blood cells that carries oxygen around the body. The change in shape of the red blood cells makes them rigid and more prone to getting stuck in the blood stream, which is the reason why people living with SCD have a significantly higher risk of vaso-occlusive crisis and impaired blood flow. The disease also leads to shortened red blood cell life span, resulting in anaemia.

The major clinical complications result in extremely poor quality of life for people living with SCD, in particular those who are not receiving the recommended treatments. There are still numerous challenges and unmet needs in SCD, leading to poor patient outcomes: Low diagnosis and new-born screening, access to comprehensive care and drug treatments.

At Novo Nordisk, we are leveraging our strong legacy within haemophilia to address the unmet needs within haemoglobinopathies. We strive to change the outcomes for people living with SCD and provide innovative treatment options. 

We are thinking beyond the science to transform people's lives.