Sickle cell drug with OKC roots going to market soon

Published: Friday, December 6, 2019 By: Molly Fleming Source: VeloCity

Dr. Rodger McEver and his teams at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and Selexys did not set out to create a drug that could be used by sickle cell disease patients.

Rather, McEver was studying a protein that’s connected to white blood cells.

He had been studying that protein, call P-selectin, since the 1980s when he worked at the University of Texas in San Antonio. P-selectin is a protein that’s expressed on the surface of blood platelets that are involved in blood clotting, as well as on cells that line blood vessels. P-selectin only goes to the surface of cells when activated, which happens as a response to an injury, infection or bleeding.

When he moved to Oklahoma City in 1987, he and other researchers dug more into P-selectin.

“We thought this protein we discovered was likely to do something important because it was an early sentinel,” he said. “It got popped to the surface when you needed a protective response or had an infection.”

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