Sickle Cell Anemia

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Sickle Cell Anemia

Sickle Cell Anemia

Julia Campbell

The Basics: Signs, Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

What is Sickle Cell Anemia?

Anemia: A condition marked by a deficiency of red blood cells or of hemoglobin in the blood, resulting in pallor and weakness.

The Blood Cell: A Background

Red blood cells are made in the spongy marrow inside the larger bones in the bodyBlood Cells contain hemoglobin, which is the protein molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body's tissues and returns carbon dioxide from the tissues back to the lungs.Normal blood cells live around 120 days in the blood, carrying oxygen and removing carbon dioxide waste.Bone Marrow makes new blood cells to replace the ones that die

Sickle Cell disease is a genetic condition which affects the hemoglobin in red blood cells.

Sickle Cell Disease is a gene passed on through generations called the 'Sickle Cell Trait'. If a person is heterozygous for the trait, they are a carrier. If a person is homozygous for the trait, they will have sickle cell anemia.There are two ways to inherit Sickle Cell Anemia:1) Homozygous for the Sickle Cell gene 'S': Genotype: HbSS2) A 'S' trait inherited from one parent, and an abnormal hemoglobin gene 'C' from the other: Genotype: HbSC

The Genetics

The Sickle Cell genes make the body produce abnormal hemoglobin called HbS, which are abnormally sticky, causing blood cells to have a tendency to fold themselves into sickle shapes and become rigid. This process is called 'Sickling'.These sickle cells can cary a large amount of oxygen. However, being that they can only live for 10-20 days (whilst regular cells can live for 120), they will die faster than the bone marrow can make new cells, leading to anemia.



Symptoms of Sickle Cell include chronic pain/fatigue, infections, and blockages in small blood vessels leading to sickle cell crisis. Symptoms of sickle cell crisis include dizziness, nausea, weak/shallow breathing, pale skin colour and pain.


Sickle Cell can be treated with blood transfusions or oxygen administration. The only possible cure so far is through blood + marrow stem cell treatments, where unhealthy stem cells are removed and the affected gene is removed. It is then replaced with a healthy gene and inserted back into the marrow, so that healthy cells can continue to be produced.

The Sickle Cell Trait is located on Chromosome 11


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