Sickle cell anemia is a chronic illness where blood vessels can become blocked when blood cells change into a sickle shape, potentially affecting every organ and causing strokes, lung disease, heart strain and spleen and bone damage. With advanced drug therapy treatment, life expectancy is 55-60 years.
The success of a procedure performed in Calgary to treat sickle cell anemia was first performed in 2009 and has since cured seven girls and two boys to date. "To our knowledge, no one else is offering this protocol in children with sickle cell anemia," said Dr. Greg Guilcher, who is also an assistant professor in the departments of oncology and pediatrics at the University of Calgary.
What sets the Calgary procedure apart from other sickle cell anemia treatments in young children is the lead up to the transplant. "This protocol uses the 'lightest' doses of medication — no chemotherapy but immune suppressing drugs only, with a low dose of radiation," said Dr. Guilcher. More exciting is the fact that there have been no incidents of stem cell rejection.
There are two main ways to detect malaria: a diagnostic test on a blood drop sample or test a drop of blood under a microscope to find the parasite.
John Lewandowski, a 26-year-old PhD student in mechanical engineering at MIT, said rapid malaria detection is very important as it affects 200 million people every year and some parish within 24 hours.
He has made a mechanical device called RAM (Rapid Assessment of Malaria) that can diagnose malaria from a drop of blood in five seconds. Costing about $100 to $120, the RAM is battery-operated and is made from low-cost materials. The plastic box (4×4 inches) has a small circuit board, a laser and a few magnets on the inside. It has an LCD screen, an SD card slot and a plastic disposable cuvette on the outside.
The clinical trials of the RAM device have been tested by the Disease Diagnostic Group in India since 2013. “In India, the field study of 250 patients showed 93% to 97% accuracy,” Lewandowski also said that a new field study will be introduced this summer in Nigeria with up to 5,000 patients.