App Helps Patients Manage Genetic Disorder
Posted April 14th, 2014 by webadmin
After being diagnosed in 2010 with hemochromatosis, a condition that causes the body to store too much iron, computer science professor Gary Grewal decided to develop an app that could help others with the condition. He and two students, Jiexin (Frank) Liu and Ryan Pattison, partnered with the Canadian Hemochromatosis Society to create an app that can help patients monitor their treatment and raise awareness of a condition that affects one in 300 Canadians.
When he was diagnosed, “I was feeling extremely ill,” says Grewal, adding that his symptoms included chronic fatigue and abdominal pain and swelling. Blood tests revealed that his ferritin levels were high, so he was referred to a liver specialist who diagnosed him with hemochromatosis, a genetic disorder. Without treatment, the body continues to store iron in organs such as the liver, pancreas and heart, eventually causing organ failure and death.
Although there is no cure, the condition can be managed through a procedure called a phlebotomy in which blood is drawn to bring ferritin levels down. When ferritin levels rise above the target of 50 nanograms per millilitre, another phlebotomy will be required.
“There’s nothing out there like this,” says Grewal of the app, which would help patients monitor their ferritin levels and predict when their target level will be reached. He plans to recruit 50 volunteers to test a prototype of the app before making it available to the public later this year.