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"The Origins of Molecular Biology and Molecular Medicine." May 20, 1986.
Recording of a Pauling lecture. Produced by Medical Television, University of Alabama, Birmingham.
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 oxygenation.
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