"The Origins of Molecular Biology and Molecular Medicine." May 20, 1986.
Recording of a Pauling lecture. Produced by Medical Television, University of Alabama,
William Castle's Thoughts on Sickle Cell Anemia. (2:05)
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Linus Pauling: Well, now I'll go on to sickle cell anemia, which was a pretty interesting matter.
Here's a patient with sickle cell anemia. Here is an illustration from our paper in
1949, "Sickle Cell Anemia: A Molecular Disease." In 1945, when I heard about sickle
cell anemia from Bill Castle, I wasn't very much interested. Anything involving cells
seemed to me to be far too complicated to have much interest for me - at any rate
the cell is such a complicated structure. But then when he said these cells are sickled,
deformed in the venous blood and regain their normal shape in the arterial blood,
I thought it must be that this is a disease of the hemoglobin molecule. After all,
a red cell consists mainly of hemoglobin molecules, a hundred million of them per
cell. And why shouldn't a hemoglobin molecule be something like an antibody to itself?
Having two mutually-complimentary combining regions on opposite sides, so that one
molecule would clamp on to the next, and so on, building long rods which would line
up side-by-side to make a needle-shaped crystal which, as it grew longer and longer,
longer than the diameter of the red cell, it would twist it out of shape. And an oxygen
molecule that is stuck on to the hemoglobin molecule would be a large bump sticking
out that would keep these combining regions from getting close enough together for
this crystallization to occur. And accordingly, the sickling would be reversed on
ClipCreator: Linus Pauling
Associated: William B. Castle
Clip ID: 1986v.9-castle
Full WorkCreator: Linus Pauling
Associated: University of Alabama at Birmingham
Date: May 20, 1986
Copyright: More Information