Sickle Cell Anemia and Red Blood Cell Physiology Introduction Sickle cell anemia is a disorder in which the body makes crescent-shaped red blood cells. Normal red blood cells are disc-shaped. They move easily through your blood vessels and contain an iron rich protein called hemoglobin. This protein carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Sickle cells contain abnormal hemoglobin due to a mutation in the hemoglobin chain. This type of hemoglobin is known as sickle hemoglobin or hemoglobin S. Sickle hemoglobin is what distorts red blood cells into a sickle shape. Sickle cells are sticky and less elastic than normal red blood cells. They are not able to pass through the blood as easily so in result they tend to block blood flow in blood vessels. Blocked blood flow causes pain, organ damage, and increases the risk for infections. In this disease, the abnormal red blood cells begin to die at a much faster rate then they are produced. The bone marrow attempts to create more red blood cells but it does not match the rate of how fast they die. Sickle cell anemia is an inheritable disease and has no widely available cure. Annotated Bibliography Maciaszek, Andemariam, and Lykotrafitis. “Microelasticity of Red Blood Cells in Sickle Cell Disease”. [Internet] 2011 January 11. [cited 2014 May 24] Available from: http://www.engr.uconn.edu/~gelyko/articles/SAGE_11.pdf This paper describes how atomic force microscopy is used to measure mechanical properties of living and fixed cells. This method was applied to red blood cells from patients with sickle cell disease to determine the difference in elasticity between the cells in an oxygenated state and a deoxygenated state. Distinctions are also made between the shape and ... ... middle of paper ... ... beyond the age of 20 and most did not survive to age 50. With todays research, doctors can make an early diagnosis and use recently developed treatments to improve the life expectancy of people with the disease. Patients with hemoglobin S may now live to age 50 or older. Current studies attempt to make new drugs to protect organs against damage from the disease. With such deep commitment, it is possible that there will one day be a cure. Incidence In 1990, sickle cell anemia was identified as a cause of death for a large number of children in Connecticut. In result all babies born are to be checked for sickle cell. At one point, the newborn screenings in Connecticut identified over 570 babies with the disease and 17,475 with the trait. Eventually, the screening program and follow-up care methods helped make a great reduction in the mortality of children.