An accurate and affordable test for the rapid diagnosis of sickle cell disease could revolutionize the outlook for affected children born in resource-limited settings.
Each year, at least 280,000 children are born with sickle cell disease (SCD) in resource-limited settings. For cost, logistic and political reasons, the availability of SCD testing is limited in such settings and consequently 50-90 % of affected children die undiagnosed before their fifth birthday. The recent development of a point of care method for the diagnosis of SCD - the Sickle SCAN™ device - could afford such children the prompt access to appropriate services that has transformed the outlook for affected children in resource-rich areas. In research published in BMC Medicine, Kanter and colleagues describe a small but carefully conducted study involving 208 children and adults, in which they found that by using Sickle SCAN™ it was possible to diagnose the common forms of SCD with 99 % sensitivity and 99 % specificity, in under 5 minutes. If repeatable both in newborn babies and under real-life conditions, and if marketed at an affordable price, Sickle SCAN™ could revolutionize the survival prospects for children born with SCD in resource-limited areas.Please see related article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12916-015-0473-6.