Javon Ayers and his mother, Shakara Gross

A new play­er jumps in­to the heat­ed race for a sick­le cell cure, with help from Google's GV

For 17 years, Javon Ay­ers lived the life of most sick­le cell kids: con­stant hos­pi­tal vis­its, hand and foot syn­drome, pneu­mo­nia and a re­moved spleen. In 2015, the fam­i­ly moved from Chica­go to Geor­gia, which helped. 

It proved a lucky break. This year, a doc­tor at the Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal of At­lanta told him he may be el­i­gi­ble for an ex­per­i­men­tal gene ther­a­py that could com­plete­ly cure him. What fol­lowed was a NASA-lev­el bat­tery of tests, a bone mar­row ex­trac­tion-treat­ment-and-rein­jec­tion, chemother­a­py and three months post-op in the hos­pi­tal.

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