Currently vice chairman and general manager of the Nigeria Rugby League Association, Adebisi will represent what’s touted as the world’s first rapid test to help diagnose both SCD and the sickle cell trait.
Born in Nigeria, Adebisi is the only known athlete with sickle cell disease (SCD) to ever play rugby professionally. A former member of the British Rugby League Association, he played for the London Skolars, the London Broncos and other teams as a fullback or wing before retiring. He now serves as vice chair and general manager of the Nigeria Rugby League Association, and seeks to inspire others with the disease.
“Awareness starts with knowing if you either have the disease, or if you carry the genetic trait,” said Adebisi, 33, in a news release. “Sickle SCAN is the world’s first diagnostic rapid test that can help determine both, and is a great solution for places like Nigeria and other sub-Saharan countries where access to traditional laboratory testing isn’t very easy. I’m excited for the impact that Sickle SCAN can have on helping to improve people’s lives.”
Some 80 percent of all babies with SCD are born in low-resource sub-Saharan countries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although the African Union and the World Health Organization (WHO) have named the disease a global health priority across the region, it has no screening programs. Nigeria, in particular, has the highest SCD rate of any country.
Sickle cell causes red blood cells to become stiff and sickle shaped through the presence of the hemoglobin S (Hgb S) variant. The disorder is painful and damaging, and can cause life-threatening infections, strokes, and other complications. The disease has a autosomal recessive inheritance pattern. This means that when a child inherits a normal hemoglobin gene from one parent and a Hgb S gene from the other, the child has sickle cell trait. If the Hgb S gene is inherited from both parents, the child has sickle cell disease.
A qualitative point-of-care immunoassay, Sickle Scan can be used for general, newborn and blood donor screening, as well as preventatively for genetic counseling. According to its website, the test takes about five minutes and uses a small amount of blood from a finger, heel or vein puncture to quickly distinguish between normal, trait and sickle cell samples.
Compared to traditional lab testing, Sickle Scan is said to eliminate the need to transport blood samples, streamline clinical workflow, require no supporting equipment or rigorous personnel training, and to markedly reduce patient waiting time and discomfort.
”We are proud and honored to have Ade Adebisi represent our Sickle SCAN brand,” said Frank Wang, CEO of BioMedomics, a point-of-care diagnostics company. “He is a passionate advocate for raising awareness for SCD and as a living example of someone who has successfully managed the disease, he is a tremendous inspiration to everyone in the SCD community.”