Density-based separation in multiphase systems provides a simple method to identify sickle cell disease

Academic Article


  • Although effective low-cost interventions exist, child mortality attributable to sickle cell disease (SCD) remains high in low-resource areas due, in large part, to the lack of accessible diagnostic methods. The presence of dense (ρ > 1.120 g/cm3) cells is characteristic of SCD. The fluid, self-assembling step-gradients in density created by aqueous multiphase systems (AMPSs) identifies SCD by detecting dense cells. AMPSs separate different forms of red blood cells by density in a microhematocrit centrifuge and provide a visual means to distinguish individuals with SCD from those with normal hemoglobin or with nondisease, sickle-cell trait in under 12 min. Visual evaluation of a simple two-phase system identified the two main subclasses of SCD [homozygous (Hb SS) and heterozygous (Hb SC)] with a sensitivity of 90% (73-98%) and a specificity of 97% (86-100%). A threephase system identified these two types of SCD with a sensitivity of 91% (78-98%) and a specificity of 88% (74-98%). This system could also distinguish between Hb SS and Hb SC. To the authors' knowledge, this test demonstrates the first separation of cells by density with AMPSs, and the usefulness of AMPSs in point-of-care diagnostic hematology.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Kumar AA; Patton MR; Hennek JW; Lee SYR; D'alesio-Spina G; Yang X; Kanter J; Shevkoplyas SS; Brugnara C; Whitesides GM
  • Start Page

  • 14864
  • End Page

  • 14869
  • Volume

  • 111
  • Issue

  • 41