New technology may standardize sickle cell disease screening for infants

blood samples

Researchers from Case Western Reserve University and the Seidman Cancer Center at University Hospitals Case Medical Center presented new research findings at the 57th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology in Orlando in early December.
In a poster presentation, mechanical and aerospace engineering PhD candidate Yunus Alapan, Umut Gurkan, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, and Jane Little, director of the Adult Sickle Cell Anemia Center at the UH Seidman Cancer Center and associate professor at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, presented the latest findings related to a new technology aimed at facilitating early detection of sickle cell disease for infants in developing countries.

Current standardized screening methods are too costly and take too much time to enable equitable and timely diagnosis to save lives in economically challenged nations. However, the team’s mobile biochip device, the HemeChip, has the unique ability to rapidly screen for sickle cell disease with just a few drops of blood.
With a miniscule blood sample, the HemeChip, a micro-electrophoretic device, examines and identifies hemoglobins, including hemoglobinopathies sickle cell anemia (HbSS), sickle trait (HbAS) and SC disease (HbSC). Using this new hemechip platform, the research team is planning to travel to Ghana to implement validation of screening in pediatric patients.
The project recently won a $50,000 grant from Ohio Third Frontier to support the work, as well as $50,000 from the Case-Coulter Translational Research Partnership and an additional $150,000 from the Student Healthcare Technology Prize.
The HemeChip was developed by Gurkan, working in collaboration with a team of researchers, including Little, who is also a member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve.