• Is There a Better Way to Diagnose Sickle Cell Anaemia? - Chromatography Explores

Is There a Better Way to Diagnose Sickle Cell Anaemia? - Chromatography Explores

Sep 17 2018 Read 1452 Times

Sickle cell anaemia is a form of sickle cell disease – a range of inherited conditions that affect the red blood cells in the body. The condition is caused by a faulty gene that can be passed on to subsequent children. The condition is more prevalent amongst people with African, Caribbean, Asian and Middle Eastern origin.

In some cultures, it is required that premarital screening for sickle cell is carried out before marriage, to allow parents to understand the risks associated with the condition – which includes a reduced life expectancy of 50 years with medical care in developed countries, but only 20 years in less developed countries. A recent paper in the journal Disease Markers - A Novel Technique of Spectral Discrimination of Variants of Sickle Cell Anemia – reports on how researchers are investigating new methods to help diagnose sickle cell and other related blood disorders.

Sickle cell – not a round blood cell

Our red blood cells carry oxygen around the body to where we need it and helps to remove waste products. Normal red blood cells are doughnut-like allowing flexibility to pass through both large and small blood vessels. When a person suffers from sickle cell, the red blood cells are abnormal and sickle shape. This helps to make them more inflexible and stickier causing them to lie over each other meaning they flow less easily through blood vessels – allowing them to get stuck. The blood cells also have a shorter live them normal red blood cells.

There are over 270 million molecules of haemoglobin – the protein that carries oxygen in red blood cells – in each red blood cell. Sickle cell disease is due to two inherited abnormal haemoglobin genes – one from each parent. Sickle cell trait is where only one gene is abnormal – and the person will not have serious medical symptoms. But if a person with one abnormal gene has children with another person with one abnormal gene – each of their children has a twenty-five percent chance of having sickle cell disease, twenty five percent probability of being normal and fifty percent chance of being a sickle cell trait carrier.

New detection method

There are currently two methods used to screen for potential sickle cell problems – including high performance liquid chromatography. Recent developments in liquid chromatography are discussed in the article, 14 Years on from the Introduction of UHPLC. Bu, the current methods are considered slow and expensive – hence the search for newer methods.

The ne method the researchers report on relies on fluorescence of biomolecules – with differences due to concentrations of amino acids and coenzymes being used as markers of sickle cell diseases. The authors report that the new method is sensitive and portable – perfect for use in developing countries where access to expensive lab equipment might be scarce.

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