National Health Services (NHS) of England is likely to introduce the world’s first genotyping blood test which could help ease the suffering of thalassemia patients as donated blood poses several risks to patients because of various reasons.
Diseases such as this and sickle-cell anaemia are treated via blood transfusions but there are complications associated with it.
According to an estimate, around 17% of patients are vulnerable to side effects after getting blood from their donors that include stroke pain because the blood does not accurately match the patient’s blood.
The groundbreaking test by NHS England and NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) will take into account genotyping of the blood group which means a thorough analysis of DNA of the patient’s blood group so that there could be accurate transfusions.
This will reduce the donor blood reaction in the patient’s body, rendering patients more certain about the best treatment.
The funding of nearly £1 million to NHSBT will be provided by NHS England so that it could be done in its specialised molecular diagnostics laboratory.
Nearly 17,000 in England suffer from sickle cell disease, where red blood cells become sticky, block vessels and restrict oxygen supply causing intense pain, with nearly every 250 new sickle cell cases annually.
In the UK, there are approximately 800 thalassemia patients with less than 50 new cases each year.
The patients of thalassemia produce little or no haemoglobin — responsible for carrying oxygen around the body — and this can cause chronic tiredness.
“This £1 million investment in genotyping is a potential game changer in tackling the painful side effects many sickle cell disease and thalassemia sufferers experience following a blood transfusion. It could also be used to stop the progression of the diseases in their tracks,” said Health Minister Neil O’Brien.
“Matching blood more accurately is vital for sickle cell and thalassemia patients — we urgently need more blood donors from these communities to come forward as they are more likely to have the necessary blood type vital to treat these disorders.”