Discovering Sickle Cell Anemia Essay

1318 words - 5 pages

Its a 4 and a half page report all about Sickle Cell Anemia Lots of good information and statistics, Great job!1The topic that I am learning about is Sickle Cell Anemia, a hereditary disease which affects red blood cells. Throughout this research paper, I will discuss what exactly it is, how it is caused, any known treatments or cures, and many other facts that are important in this disease.Sickle Cell Anemia is a health problem throughout the world. More than 250,000 babies are born worldwide with this inherited blood cell disorder (http://www.medaccess.com/h_child/sickle/sca_01.htm). The disorder causes red blood cells to extend into a sickle shape which clogs the arteries.Persistant pain and life-threatening infections result from the illness. About one in 400 black newborns in the U.S. have sickle cell anemia. And one in 12 black Americans carry the sickle cell trait (http://www.medaccess.com/h_child/sickle/sca_01.htm). This leaves a good chance that the parent with the trait can pass the defect onto offspring although their own health is not harmed.The cause of sickle cell anemia is rather simple but it leaves a life threatening affect. Anyone who carries the inherited trait for sickle cell anemia, but doesn't have the disorder, is actually protected from a severe form of malaria. This helped the children in countries where malaria was a problem, to be able to survive against that disease. What happened to those children? They grew up, had their own children and ended up passing the gene for sickle cell anemia onto their offspring.This disease is a hereditary blood disorder that affects the red blood cell. Red blood cells contain a protein called hemoglobin which transports oxygen from your lungs to every part of your body. Hemoglobin's oxygen carrying ability is essential for living but if there is a structural defect on the pigmented molecule, it can be fatal. When a normal red blood cell distributes its2oxygen, it has a disc shape. But when an affected red blood cell containing sickle cell hemoglobin releases its oxygen, the image of the cell changes from a disc shape to a sickled shape. In hemoglobin, there are four chains of amino acids. Two are know as alpha chains, and two are called beta chains. In a normal hemoglobin, the amino acid in the sixth position on the beta chain is known as glutamic acid (refer to diagram 1.1 on page 6). During sickle cell anemia, the glutamic acid is pushed out of its place and replaced with another amino acid called vialine(refer to diagram 1.2 on page 6). This simple substitution has devastating consequences.Hemoglobin molecules that contain the beta chain defect stick to one another instead of staying separate after releasing oxygen. This forms long, rigid rods inside the red blood cells. The rods cause the normally smooth and disc shaped blood cells to take on a sickle shape. When this happens, the blood cells lose essential ability to deform and squeeze through small blood vessels and arteries. The...

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