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In 1949, two articles appeared independently showing conclusively that SCD was inherited and that people with sickle trait were heterozygous (carriers or AS) for the gene whereas people with the disease were homozygous – i.e., had a double dose of the gene (SS). He smiled, got up from his desk and opened a file drawer.
One was published by a military doctor in what was then known as Portuguese East Africa (now Mozambique) named Col. He pulled out a reprint of a 1947 paper he had written, also from Science as I recall, and showed me where he had said, “this [referring to data in the paper] almost certainly shows that sickle cell anemia is hereditary.
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A young man named Walter Clement Noel from the island of Grenada, a dental student studying in Chicago, went to Dr. Herrick with complaints of pain episodes, and symptoms of anemia.Sickle Cell Disease Coalition Learn more about efforts to improve outcomes for individuals with sickle cell disease.Sickle Cell Disease Association of America Information, news, research, and resources.This was exciting because red cells are the oxygen transporters of the body. Neel published his article in the prestigious American journal Science.The trouble was, that there were people –often relatives of the patient – whose red cells had this trait of sickling when deprived of oxygen but who had no disease. In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s the nature of the disease began to become clearer. As a result of the much wider readership of that journal, Neel usually gets the credit for the discovery although most authors are careful to cite both and many people think that Neel and Beet worked together. Neel (he has died since), and I remarked that I always tell my classes about his discovery and the 1949 article and the dual publication by Beet.In summary, in 1910, Herrick described an anemia characterized by bizarre, sickle-shaped cells.