Approximately 4.4 million1 people globally suffer from sickle cell disease, while an additional 43 million have the sickle cell trait.

Global Prevalence

This inherited blood disorder severely impacts the health of the patients starting at a very young age, and in severe cases, reduces life span by 20-30 years. Sickle Cell Disease can cause multi-organ failures, with kidneys being one of the most affected areas. About 80% of all Sickle Cell Disease cases2 are known to occur in Sub-Saharan Africa, with an estimated 240,0003 children born with SCD annually in this region. It is also becoming more common in the United States, Cuba, Central America, Saudi Arabia, India, Turkey, and Greece, and has recently been found in the UK, France, and Italy. Most experts think a medical cure is at least a few decades away, and therefore earlier symptomatic treatment is key to reducing suffering and prolonging life. Available remedies are often scarce, and diagnostic blood tests using syringes are difficult to administer and dispose of properly.

ILSC’s Initiative

Develop a novel urinary test device for early detection of kidney disease in SCD patients. This easy-to-administer and inexpensive test could lead to earlier treatment and prolong life.

The Science

The Institute for Life Sciences, through a collaboration of prestigious global academic research institutions, is working to develop an early detection of renal complications through a non-invasive and inexpensive device. ILSC has access to a novel, patented screening test for kidney disease. The test, designed for detecting low molecular weight peptides in urine, has significant clinical advantages over the current clinical standard – measuring albumin in the urine. Using a simple urine dipstick, this test will also be effective in regions without sophisticated health-care systems. If clinical trials are successful, these devices will be inexpensive to produce and distribute globally.

ILSC, together with prestigious academic research institutions in the United States and Africa, will conduct a proof of concept pre-clinical trial in the spring of 2021. After successful completion of the pre-clinical study, more detailed clinically valid studies will follow. Although not a cure, early detection will enable patients to obtain earlier treatments, thereby reducing symptoms and ideally prolonging their lives.

About Sickle Cell Disease

“Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder that affects red blood cells. People with sickle cell disease have red blood cells that contain mostly hemoglobin S, an abnormal type of hemoglobin. Sometimes these red blood cells become sickle-shaped (crescent shaped) and have difficulty passing through small blood vessels. When sickle-shaped cells block small blood vessels, less blood can reach that part of the body. Tissue that does not receive a normal blood flow eventually becomes damaged. This is what causes the complications of sickle cell disease. There is currently no universal cure for sickle cell disease.”

Sickle Cell Disease has since long been identified as a significant factor in kidney function decline. Recent studies are now suggesting that individuals with the Sickle Cell Trait (SCT) are also at risk to experience a significant decline in their kidney function. Instead of 4.4 millions of patients with SCD, additionally 43 millions of individuals are at a significant risk for Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and ultimately End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). All of which making it even more important to invest in to finding earlier treatments and prolong life.

  1. “Global Burden of Disease Study 2013”. Lancet. 386 (9995): 743–800
  2. Piel, FB et al, Plos Med 2013; 10(7): e1001484.