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June 1987


Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics, Arizona Health Science Center, Tucson.

Am J Dis Child. 1987;141(6):616. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1987.04460060034026

The historical aspects of sickle cell anemia are well known and described in two recent texts.1,2 Even though red blood cells were seen and described by Antonj Van Leeuwenhoek in 1674, Paul Ehrlich developed stains for examining tissue and cells microscopically in 1877, and the signs and symptoms of sickle cell anemia were appreciated for years (perhaps hundreds of years) it took J. B. Herrick, in 1910, to put all this together when he described the first case of sickle cell anemia. The cause of the red blood cell abnormality continued to be a mystery until in 1948-1949, when a newly developed electrophoresis method showed that the hemoglobin of sickle cells was different from that of normal cells. (A Nobel prize was awarded for this.) Subsequently, the genetics of the disorder were clarified and the sickle hemoglobin was found to be an abnormality of the β-polypeptide chain (glutamic acid

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