Norwegian Sickle Cell Anaemia Organization
Research Highlights the Importance of Nitric Oxide
Ann de Wees Allen’s Research Team Discovers
Sickle Cell Treatment
at Duke University and Howard Hughes Medical
Institute have discovered one of the keys to the cause
of pain in Sickle Cell disease.
Their findings were reported in the January 31, 2005, Proceedings
of the National Academy of Science. The research showed that
when normal red blood cells move through the arteries they
release a signaling molecule that tells the arterial walls
molecule is nitric oxide. Nitric oxide causes the smooth muscle in
the blood vessel wall to relax which opens up the vessel to allow
the cells to pass through.
For those with Sickle Cell Anemia, when the red blood cells are distorted
into the sickle cell shape, the researchers at Duke University
discovered that the walls of the arteries do not expand. The distorted
shape of the sickle cells, combined with the tendency to clump together,
results in blocked-blood-flow through the small arteries and capillaries.
The Duke researchers noted that as the blood pulses, the walls of
the arteries did not expand as they do with normal red blood cells.
Their research also noted that the degree of nitric oxide deficiency
directly correlated with symptom severity. This means that the less
nitric oxide produced, the greater the pain. The Duke/HHMI study found
that when nitric oxide was administered to people with Sickle Cell
anemia their symptoms were relieved. One of the conclusions from this
study was that abnormal nitric oxide processing may be the real cause
of Sickle Cell circulatory restrictions. In addition to the Duke/HHMI
study, several other studies found that the administration of nitric
oxide to people with sickle cell anemia relieved symptoms.
1998, the Nobel Prize in Medicine was award for the discovery
of nitric oxide and its relationship to L-arginine. The Nobel
Prize winning researchers discovered that the primary pathway
for creating nitric oxide in the body originates from an essential
amino acid called L-arginine.
is called an essential amino acid because the body cannot produce
it, and it must be consumed via diet. L-arginine is found in foods
like milk, cheese, yogurt, meat, and other proteins.
The world’s leading researcher in L-arginine is Dr. Ann de
Wees Allen. Dr. Allen has over 20 years of experience with L-arginine,
and her research has led to breakthrough discoveries that center
on the remarkable properties of L-arginine. L-arginine is considered
the most important amino acid in the body and is referred to by
scientists as the Miracle Molecule. Columbia University
refers to L-arginine as the “MAGIC BULLET” for the cardiovascular
To be effective and safe, L-arginine must utilize a low-glycemic
methodology. Through much research and development, Dr. Allen
determined that an L-arginine molecule attached to a kiwi glycoside
(from the Kiwi plant) will create the formulation that allows L-arginine
to cross the proper barriers (Blood-Brain-Barriers), as well as
allow it to be taken orally without the taste buds rejecting it.
Dr. Allen’s formulation for L-arginine was granted full patent
status, with multiple new patents filed for Sickle Cell.
Due to the Sickle Cell trait, many African-Americans produce
too much of an enzyme called arginase.
In the bloodstream, arginase destroys L-arginine
so that it is no longer available for the production
of nitric oxide.
Dr. Ann de Wees Allen was able to genetically engineer a low-glycemic
delivery system for L-arginine specifically designed for the
African-American community. This product is call ENCODE
®. It is designed to provide a new pathway for accessing
L-arginine and generating nitric oxide in Sickle Cell and
Thallasemia patients. The Patents on Encode ® were filed in
2005 by Dr. Ann de Wees Allen.
Adiambo Ombwayo, Program Coordinator
Kenneth Obiero, Project Field Coordinator Kisumu, Kenya
Linda Hansen, Project Evaluator
Collette Akeyo, Director
Lisa Strand Larsen, Information Officer