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Prithu Sundd Laboratory

The Sundd Laboratory explores health complications associated with sickle cell disease.

Prithu Sundd Laboratory at Versiti Blood Research Institute


Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an autosomal recessive genetic disorder that affects more than 100,000 Americans and millions worldwide. Sickle cell anemia (SCA) is the most common form of SCD, which is caused by a substitution of hydrophobic valine (Val) for hydrophilic glutamic acid (Glu) at the sixth position in the beta globin chain. Under hypoxic conditions, the mutated hemoglobin (HbS) undergoes reversible polymerization to form long fibers, which cause red blood cells (RBCs) to sickle. It is believed that sickle RBCs (sRBCs) get trapped in small blood vessels, along with leukocytes and platelets, to cause vaso-occlusion, the predominant pathophysiology responsible for acute pain crises and emergency medical care among SCD patients. 

Acute chest syndrome (ACS) is a form of acute lung injury (ALI) and a leading cause of morbidity among SCD patients. SCD patients hospitalized with acute pain crises often develop ACS within the next few days, suggesting a role for vaso-occlusion in lung injury. However, the exact etiological mechanism that triggers ACS is still elusive and the available treatment is primarily supportive.

The Sundd lab aims to elucidate the molecular and biophysical mechanism of leukocyte-platelet-endothelium interaction during inflammation and how these events contribute to vaso-occlusive crisis (VOC) and ACS in SCD. To achieve this, we are using a multi-scale integrative physiologic approach, which involves in vivo multi-photon excitation (MPE) fluorescence microscopy in transgenic and knock-in mice, microfluidic assays with patient blood, total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy, structured illumination microscopy (SIM), laser confocal microscopy, electron microscopy and various biochemical approaches. 

This multi-scale approach enables us to address the link between the pathophysiology of ACS affecting the lung (macro-level response) to the aberrant cellular events (micro-level response) driving the vaso-occlusion, and the molecular interactions (nano-level response) that enable those cellular events. Identifying the molecular mechanism of vaso-occlusion in the lung will inspire therapeutics to prevent ACS in SCD patients.

Current research interests of the Sundd Lab include pulmonary thrombo-inflammation in sickle cell disease and other blood diseases that affect the lungs.
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Prithu Sundd, PhD
Prithu Sundd, PhD is a senior investigator at Versiti Blood Research Institute, whose research focuses on Thrombosis and Hemostasis.
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