Prof Tiribelli and Prof Wennberg have collaborated to find a simply solution that could lead to the ending of Kernicterus, a pathology affecting thousands of jaundiced newborns in low resource settings throughout the world, primarily because of structural and economic barriers.
Their scientific careers, with more than 30 years of experience in basic and clinical bilirubin research, have allowed them to identify these barriers and propose strategies to eliminate this tragedy. The fundamental structural reasons for late diagnosis of severe jaundice leading to kernicterus are failure to evaluate risk factors for jaundice and no follow up of babies following early discharge or home delivery. The greatest limiting factor in assessment of risk is the inability to measure plasma bilirubin levels.
In response to these deficiencies, Professors Tiribelli and Wennberg have concentrated on developing a low cost, rapid point-of-care system to measure plasma bilirubin, allowing both identification of babies at risk and providing a guide for their treatment. Their dream is to integrate the rapid diagnostic technique with programs designed to enhance post-natal monitoring of newborns for jaundice.