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Letter from Linus Pauling to George Burch. May 10, 1949.
Pauling writes to request that Dr. Burch send him large quantities of sickle cell blood for use in research at Caltech. Pauling
further describes the current status of his group's research on sickle cell anemia, on both the theoretical and the experimental
May 10, 1049
Dr. George Burch
New Orleans, Louisiana
Dear Dr. Burch:
We have now got to the stage in our work of sickle cell anemia when it is important that we have a large supply of blood from
sickle cell anemia patients, and we have not succeeded in making any satisfactory arrangements to collect this blood locally.
I am writing to ask if you could help us with this problem.
Our program is moving along very well. We have found that the disease is due to the presence in the erythrocytes of a form
of hemoglobin differing from normal adult human hemoglobin. The hemoglobin seems to contain approximately four additional
acidic groups per molecule, or else it has approximately four basic groups missing. We want now to carry out analyses of
the hemoglobin, in order to find exactly what the difference in the hemoglobin is. For this purpose we would like to have
in the immediate future about one liter of hemoglobin from sickle cell anemia patients (not sickle cell trait), in addition
to what we can obtain locally. Do you think that it would be possible for you to obtain this blood for us and to ship it
to us, without too much trouble to yourself? We could pay for the special expenses involved from our Public Health Service
grant in aid. The samples of blood from different patients should not be mixed, in order that we could test them individually
to see whether they are sickle cell anemia samples or not. We have found that the hemoglobin from patients with sickle cell
anemia is 100% of the abnormal kind, whereas that in the erythrocytes of sickle cell trait individuals is a mixture of sickle
cell and normal hemoglobin. The tests of the hemoglobin are made with the Tiselius apparatus.
With best regards, I am,
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