It's in the Blood! A Documentary History of Linus Pauling, Hemoglobin and Sickle Cell Anemia All Documents and Media  
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Letter from Linus Pauling to George Burch. May 25, 1949.
Pauling writes to provide further details concerning his previous request that Dr. Burch send him large quantities of sickle cell blood for use in research at Caltech. Specifically, Pauling describes a proposed method for shipping the blood which, in his and Harvey Itano's estimation, will safeguard the integrity of the blood during its transit from New Orleans to Pasadena. Pauling adds that his enthusiasm for their current results is such that he hopes to expand his program to include investigations of other red cell abnormalities, and asks Burch to "keep on the lookout" for potential ovalocytosis and Mediterranean anemia samples.


May 25, 1949

Dr. G. E. Burch

Department of Medicine

The Tulane University of Louisiana

New Orleans 13, Louisiana

Dear Dr. Burch:

I am very pleased to have your letter of May 20. I have talked with Dr. Harvey Itano about the details of the method of sending us sickle cell anemia blood, and our suggestions are presented below.

We would like to have two or three units of, if possible, as large as 100 cc. of sickle cell anemia blood as soon as they can conveniently be sent, in order that some preliminary tests of the methods to be used in further investigations could be made. Then we would like to have a larger quantity, as close to 1000 cc. as possible, for the next stage of the investigation. The individual units that would be pooled to make this larger quantity could be sent on to us when they are collected, and stored by us until the pool can be made. We are planning to make electrophoretic tests of the units from separate patients before pooling these units. Could you also identify the patients from whom the units are taken, in case that we find some interesting abnormality.

We suggest that the units could be shipped to us is small vacuum bottles, probably the one-half pint size. Any effective anti-coagulent could be added to the blood. It might be worth while to dilute the blood with normal saline solution to a volume such as to fill the bottle leaving only a little extra air space, and I suppose that it would be desirable to tape the stopper in the bottle, in order to avoid possible loss through expulsion of the stopper at high altitude. The bottles and the contents could be chilled shortly before packing and shipping by Air Express.

I suggest that you telegraph us collect when a shipment is to be made, giving, if possible, the number of the flight. It would be all right for the shipments to reach us on any weekday, but probably not on Sunday.

If it is not extra trouble for you would you purchase a supply of the Thermos bottles, and submit the bill to us for reimbursement, along with a statement of other expenses involved in the collection and shipping of the blood.

We are so well pleased with the results of our sickle cell disease that we would like to make some similar studies on other abnormalities of

Dr. Burch -2- 5/25/49

the red cells, in case that we could obtain material. Would you keep on the lookout for patients with ovalocytosis, and also for patients with Mediterranean anemia, and collect samples of blood from these patients for our studies? We are planning to extend our studies of abnormal hemoglobin to include magnetic investigations and other special types of physical-chemical investigations.

I am hoping to be able to see you next Tuesday. We are grateful to you for assisting with our problem - we have had great trouble in getting sufficient sickle cell anemic blood locally to permit our work to go on at a suitable rate.

Sincerely yours,

Linus Pauling:W

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