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Computer models provide new understanding of sickle cell disease

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Oliver Dyer
Jul 28, 2017 19:09

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] -- Computer models developed by Brown University mathematicians show new details of what happens inside a red blood cell affected by sickle cell disease.

The researchers said they hope their models, described in an article in the Biophysical Journal, will help in assessing drug strategies to combat the genetic blood disorder, which affects millions of people worldwide.

Sickle cell disease affects hemoglobin, molecules within red blood cells responsible for transporting oxygen.

In sickle red blood cells, mutated hemoglobin can polymerize when deprived of oxygen, assembling themselves into long polymer fibers that push against the membranes of the cells, forcing them out of shape.

The stiff, ill-shaped cells can become lodged in small capillaries throughout the body, leading to painful episodes known as sickle cell crisis.

"There had been separate models for each of these things individually developed by us, but this brings those together into one comprehensive model."

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Oliver Dyer
Jul 28, 2017 19:09
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