It's in the Blood! A Documentary History of Linus Pauling, Hemoglobin and Sickle Cell Anemia Narrative  
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Hope for the Future
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In 1948, prior to any announcements about the sickle cell anemia studies, Pauling began associating structural chemistry and medical problems in his speeches and publications. Thus, Pauling anticipated the impact of his upcoming publication with Itano, Singer, and Wells. Typically, he stressed the importance of studying the structure of organic molecules and used hemoglobin as an example, by focusing on his own research. He discussed the structure of the hemes and magnetic properties of hemoglobin and also noted what was unknown by stating that although scientists were trying to ascertain the structure of proteins, they had not been successful yet. Then, he concluded by foreshadowing the potentialities of chemistry for medicine: "We may hope that in the course of time a more thorough understanding of the detailed molecular structure of hemoglobin and other complex substances will be obtained, which will be of aid in the further progress of medicine."

Pauling wasted no time circulating the sickle cell anemia information that he and his co-workers found. And in the years following the publication of their paper, Pauling continually connected studies on chemical structure to medicine and specifically discussed sickle cell anemia. In September 1949, Pauling optimistically stated that knowledge about molecular diseases might aid cancer research, especially leukemia (a cancer of the blood). Pauling summarized what was known and unknown, and how more information on the structural chemistry of diseases might revolutionize medicine. "We know the abnormal hemoglobin molecule has a positive charge three units greater than in the normal hemoglobin molecule. We still don't know if this means three negative groups are missing, or that there are three extra positive groups. This development, if carried to its logical conclusion, means our structural chemistry and understanding of molecules is getting to the point where it should be of assistance in converting medicine into a real science."

In commenting upon the history of therapeutics, Pauling stated that most antibiotics (like penicillin and streptomycin) were discovered "accidentally," and that researchers did not understand how certain substances fought illnesses. According to Pauling, medical practice had been haphazard in promoting the potential benefits of physical and structural chemistry to medicine. However, he not only hoped that the future would be different, but also tried to do something about it.

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See Also: "New Cancer Theory Cited; Making a Cancer Test at Detroit Research Institute." September 13, 1949. 
See Also: "Molecular Disease." 1950s. 

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"Structural Chemistry in Relation to Biology and Medicine." December 7, 1949.

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"Medicine's Future Role Great, Dr. Pauling Says." March 1954.

"The idea of Dr. Linus Pauling that an abnormal hemoglobin molecule might be responsible for the sickling process initiated the study of the hemoglobin molecule in hereditary anemias."

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