The Norwegian Sickle Cell Anaemia Organization

Recent Research Highlights the Importance of Nitric Oxide

Dr. Ann de Wees Allen’s Research Team Discovers
Sickle Cell Treatment

Researchers 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 to expand.

Graphic courtesy of:

The signaling 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.

In 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.
Graphic courtesy of:

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 system.

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.

Benter Adiambo Ombwayo, Program Coordinator
Kenneth Obiero, Project Field Coordinator Kisumu, Kenya
Linda Hansen, Project Evaluator
Collette Akeyo, Director
Lisa Strand Larsen, Information Officer

Copyright 2005 - 2011 Encode® Research Project