Low-Cost Diagnostics

A blood test for those who need it most

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Science  10 Oct 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6206, pp. 205-206
DOI: 10.1126/science.346.6206.205-e

People with sickle cell disease have abnormally shaped red blood cells, which can cause anemia and disrupt blood flow, leading to organ damage. Sickle cell disease can be managed effectively when diagnosed early. But in places such as sub-Saharan Africa, which lacks the infrastructure needed for advanced diagnostic procedures, many children die of the disease. To overcome this, Kumar et al. developed a diagnostic test that is rapid, inexpensive, and could be implemented in low-resource areas. Starting with blood from a fingerstick, they used aqueous solutions of polymers to separate cells by their density. Because sickle cells have a higher density than normal cells, the scientists could easily detect them by visually inspecting the samples.

CREDIT: DAVID MACK/SCIENCE SOURCE

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1414739111 (2014).

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