Game-changing genetic editing just let one teenager 'dodge' sickle cell disease.

Chalk up another big potential win for science – it just helped one kid avoid some of the devastating effects of sickle cell disease.

Sickle cell disease is a chronic, genetic blood disorder that affects about 100,000 Americans. It can affect anyone, although it disproportionately occurs in African-Americans. It’s manageable with medicine and proper care, but can still be dangerous and extremely painful. It's a lifelong condition.

Or, maybe not. Because that last part — about it being a lifelong condition – might be changing.


A French teenager may have just dodged most of the effects of the disorder thanks to gene editing.

A worker preparing cells for gene editing research. Ben Birchall/PA via AP.

That's according to a March 2, 2017, report in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Sickle cell is caused by a single genetic typo in the gene that produces hemoglobin — an important blood protein. That typo can cause normally disc-shaped red blood cells to warp into sickle-shaped crescents.

On the right are normal-shaped red blood cells. On the left is one deformed into the classic sickle shape. Image from Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia.

These can get trapped in small blood vessels, causing painful, sometimes dangerous blood clots.

The researchers behind the study used gene editing to install a typo-free copy of the gene into the DNA of some of the boy's cells.

A modified virus shepherded a copy of the normal hemoglobin gene into the boy's bone marrow stem cells (which produce red blood cells).

Now, more than two years later, about half of the boy’s red blood cells are carrying that normal protein.

"It’s not a cure, but it doesn’t matter," explained Philippe Leboulch, who helped invent the therapy, because the results were enough for the patient to avoid most of the effects of sickle cell.

Other gene therapy studies for sickle cell are also underway in Los Angeles and California.

The treatment is still preliminary work, but if it holds out in the long run, it could be a huge win for a lot of people.

In Indianapolis, a newborn's blood is taken to test for inherited diseases such as sickle cell. Photo from AP Photo/Michael Conroy.

"It could be a game changer," Oxford geneticist Deborah Gill told New Scientist. "The fact the team has a patient with real clinical benefit, and biological markers to prove it, is a very big deal."

In the past, researchers have had success fighting sickle cell with stem cell transplants, but finding a compatible donor can be difficult for many patients. Gene therapy, however, only needs one person — the patient.

Of course, there's still a ways to go before this could be widely available. But if it works out, this technique could help over 100,000 Americans live without the chronic pain of sickle cell. Which is the very definition of "a very big deal."

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Macy's and Girls Inc. believe that all girls deserve to be safe, supported, and valued. However, racial disparities continue to exist for young people when it comes to education levels, employment, and opportunities for growth. Add to that the gender divide, and it's clear to see why it's important for girls of color to have access to mentors who can equip them with the tools needed to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers.

Anissa Rivera is one of those mentors. Rivera is a recent Program Manager at the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc., a nonprofit focusing on the holistic development of girls ages 5-18. The goal of the organization is to provide a safe space for girls to develop long-lasting mentoring relationships and build the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to thrive now and as adults.

Rivera spent years of her career working within the themes of self and community empowerment with young people — encouraging them to tap into their full potential. Her passion for youth development and female empowerment eventually led her to Girls Inc., where she served as an agent of positive change helping to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.

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Inspiring young women from all backgrounds is why Macy's has continued to partner with Girls Inc. for the second year in a row. The partnership will support mentoring programming that offers girls career readiness, college preparation, financial literacy, and more. Last year, Macy's raised over $1.3M for Girls Inc. in support of this program along with their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming for more than 26,000 girls. Studies show that girls who participated are more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, score higher on standardized math tests, and be more equipped for college and campus life.

Thanks to mentors like Rivera, girls across the country have the tools they need to excel in school and the confidence to change the world. With your help, we can give even more girls the opportunity to rise up. Throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases or donate online to support Girls Inc. at Macys.com/MacysGives.

Who runs the world? Girls!

via idiehlpare / Flickr and ESPN

An innocent tweet by sports reporter Marcel Louis-Jacques erupted into a great discussion where people tried to describe the indescribable. "There's an unnamed media member in here who has never had a Dr. Pepper and asked what it tastes like," he tweeted.

"I have no idea how to describe it -- how would y'all do it?" he asked.

Marcel Louis-Jacques covers the Miami Dolphins for ESPN and appears on NFL Live, SportsCenter, ESPN Radio, and more.

The question feels like a Zen koan such as "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" or "What do you call the world?"

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Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

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Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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