(HealthDay News) – A device that measures the resistance of blood flow after deoxygenation can differentiate patients with benign or severe sickle cell disease, according to a study published in the Feb. 29 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

David K. Wood, PhD, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, and colleagues developed a microfluidic device to measure ex vivo changes in blood flow after deoxygenation using blood from healthy individuals and 29 patients with sickle cell disease, either benign (no blood transfusions or disease-related medical visits in the past year) or severe (received a blood transfusion or made a disease-related hospital visit in the past year).

The researchers found that deoxygenation had no effect on the rate of change of the resistance to flow, as determined by the rate of change in conductance, in blood from healthy individuals. In contrast, resistance rapidly increased in blood from patients with severe sickle cell disease and increased more slowly in patients with benign disease. The area under the curve was 0.85 for discriminating between benign and severe disease. Treating sickle cell blood ex vivo with 5-hydroxymethyl furfural, which increases hemoglobin oxygen affinity and has shown efficacy in mouse models of sickle cell disease, resulted in little change in resistance after deoxygenation compared with untreated blood.

“In summary, the strong correlation between blood rheodynamics and the clinical outcomes in our study population provides a valuable tool for scientific discovery, drug development, and possibly for patient monitoring and clinical decision-making in sickle cell disease,” Wood and colleagues conclude.

Several authors are listed on a pending patent application related to the study subject matter.

Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)