A Problem of Adhesion: More evidence of sickle-cell stickiness | Science News



Support credible science journalism.

Subscribe to Science News today.


A Problem of Adhesion: More evidence of sickle-cell stickiness

12:15pm, October 20, 2004

A protein found on red blood cells in sickle-cell disease binds these cells to blood vessel walls, disrupting circulation, a new study suggests. The protein, which makes a cell sticky, may serve as a prime target for drugs to ease the condition.

People with sickle-cell disease make elongated versions of hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that totes oxygen. The abnormal hemoglobin can become stiff, bending many of the cells into a sickle shape. Like twigs collecting in a downspout, these misshapen blood cells are apt to clog a vessel. The result can be intense pain and damage to internal organs.

For decades, scientists assumed that the cells' shape was the primary cause of vessel blockage in sickle-cell patients. But since 1980, researchers have been turning up evidence that specific molecules on the deformed cells make them stickier than healthy cells.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join the Society today or Log in.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content