It's in the Blood! A Documentary History of Linus Pauling, Hemoglobin and Sickle Cell Anemia All Documents and Media  
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"Molecular Disease Lectures"
"Molecular Disease Lectures" November 1970.
Delivered at the State University of New York. [Buffalo?] Produced by the American Chemical Society.

Marriage Tests and the Disclosure of Genotype Information. (3:13)

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Linus Pauling: I think, I forgot to mention, I think of course that something ought to be done about this disease, sickle cell anemia. Here you have fifteen-hundred children born a year with this disease and doomed to a pretty poor life. And Dr. Zuckerkandl and I made a proposal.

First Harvey Itano and I developed a very simple test. This drop of blood: one drop of blood with just a little variant of an existing test. But it’s no job at all, when blood tests are carried out, required for marriage licenses, say, why not check for sickling too?

And then, we suggest that every young person have his genotype tattooed on his forehead, so that young people would recognize at first sight if they were incompatible in this way. In fact, we said in this paper, and then, you see, they could refrain from marrying one another because if they marry one another a quarter of their children will inherit these two genes and will be grossly defected, be grossly ill, will die young, suffer and die.

But they could marry normal people, and then if they married normal people, half of their children will have inherited the single gene, would be carriers like one of the parents. And so they should be encouraged to have a smaller number of children than normal, to be satisfied with one child. And then in that way, the gene which is no longer needed, because malaria is controlled by the anti-malarial drugs and the destruction of mosquito ponds and so on, in that way the gene would be got rid of. And we said this chance, twenty-five percent chance of giving birth to a defective child, is too large to allow a combination of ignorance and free enterprise in love to take care of the matter. I think that’s the way to handle that problem. Just that the heterozygotes would not marry one another, or not have children.

And there’s a possibility this is being done, of course, for other abnormalities. There is the possibility that you could take a little, stick a needle in and a get a little sample of amniotic fluid and look at the cells and see whether the sickle cell gene is present in the developing embryo and abort it if it is. But this is a complicated process. Be hard to do with the sickle cell gene, but it is easy to do with trisomy, with the extra chromosome with mongolism. And of course, it should be done then, especially with older women who have a higher probability of this non-disjunction which produces a child with forty-seven chromosomes; should be done with them, especially one who, if the mother’s already given birth to a mongoloid child.


Creator: Linus Pauling
Associated: Harvey Itano, Emile Zuckerkandl
Clip ID: 1970v.9-tests

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Creator: American Chemical Society
Associated: Linus Pauling

Date: November 1970
Genre: sound
ID: 1970v.9
Copyright: More Information

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