Sickle Cell Patient Kier Spates to Share Experiences With SCD, Endari

'Steve Harvey Morning Show' personality teams up with Emmaus

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by Mary Chapman |

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Through a collaboration with Emmaus Life Sciences, Kier “Junior” Spates — of the nationally syndicated radio program “The Steve Harvey Morning Show” — will share his experiences with sickle cell disease (SCD) and the Emmaus treatment Endari (L-glutamine).

The radio show features host Harvey and a team that includes comedian and multimedia entertainer Spates, who became a national celebrity ambassador for the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America in 2013. Spates and the nonprofit launched the SCD awareness campaign “Rise Above.”

The Houston, Texas, native also founded the Kier’s Hope Foundation, which supports those living with the blood disorder.

Now, Spates is teaming up with Emmaus, which developed Endari — the first approved treatment for children with sickle cell disease, in 2017, and the first new treatment for adults with the inherited disorder in almost 20 years — as a consultant.

“Our collaboration with Mr. Spates will help destigmatize SCD and inform 9 million weekly listeners to Mr. Harvey’s popular show, including those who [live] with SCD, about Endari,” Yutaka Niihara, MD, chairman and CEO of Emmaus, said in a press release.

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“We admire and appreciate Mr. Spates’ courage in living with this disease and publicly sharing his experiences and would like to extend our public thanks to Mr. Harvey and the show’s producers for their cooperation,” added Niihara.

Comedian uses Endari for sickle cell

In addition to sharing what life is like with sickle cell disease, Spates will talk about Endari, which was approved in the U.S. in July 2017 to treat SCD patients ages 5 and older.

Earlier this year, the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Health also approved Endari, which is indicated to reduce acute SCD complications.

“I’ve been taking Endari since April and found it to be beneficial in my treatment regime for sickle cell disease,” said Spates. “Since adding Endari to my treatment protocol I have had fewer crises.”

Spates said he became a company consultant “after many conversations with Emmaus.” He said he wants to bring awareness of the therapy to minority communities.

“I understand firsthand how this disease devastates the Black community. I support and understand Emmaus’ commitment to [taking] a holistic approach to the treatment of sickle cell disease,” Spates said.

The oral therapy works by increasing the amount of free glutamine circulating in a patient’s bloodstream.

Sickle cells can access the free glutamine and use it to produce antioxidant molecules, which in turn can help neutralize the harmful effects of oxidative stress — a process resulting from an imbalance in the production of toxic oxidant molecules and a cell’s antioxidant defense mechanisms. Consequently, sickle cells can regain the flexibility needed to more effectively carry oxygen to tissues throughout the body.

Emmaus said its collaboration with the entertainer and the radio show are part of its efforts to seek to address historical care issues in the African American community, which the disease predominantly affects. Despite the advent of Endari and other therapies, many patients still lack access to treatments and even primary care. According to Emmaus, many are hesitant to speak with their physicians about disease management — if they’re aware of options.

“This new collaboration, like our recently announced telehealth services, is intended to reach Americans nationwide who lack information regarding available SCD treatment options such as Endari,” said George Sekulich, senior vice president of global commercialization at Emmaus.

“We believe that Mr. Spates’ experience will resonate with his and Mr. Harvey’s audience,” Sekulich added.