Why does sickle cell anemia still exist?

Grab your lab coats and put on those goggles, scientists! Today we’re going to dive into the murky world of sickle cell anemia (SCA) and try to solve one of its biggest mysteries: why does it still exist? We’ll look at everything from genetics to evolution, so hold onto your hats – this is gonna be a wild ride.

What Exactly Is Sickle Cell Anemia?

Before we can start speculating as to why SCA has stuck around for so long, let’s first take a quick peek at what it actually is. In terms that even us laypeople can understand, SCA is basically a genetic disorder that affects hemoglobin – the protein in red blood cells responsible for carrying oxygen throughout our bodies. Long story short, if you have SCA then your red blood cells are oddly shaped (kinda like crescent moons) instead of being nice and round like they should be. As a result these misshapen suckers get trapped more easily inside our veins and arteries which leads to all sorts of unpleasant symptoms such as chronic pain, fatigue and impaired organ function.

‘Why Don’t We Just Delete The Bad Genes?’

Ah yes! That good old chestnut question that often gets bandied about by people who don’t quite grasp the complexities involved with human genetics. If only things were that simple…unfortunately life just ain’t fair sometimes folks! Deleting genes from an entire population isn’t necessarily feasible or ethical without causing some nasty side effects. Also there’s the complicated matter of inherited traits – ever heard of them? If certain individuals carry resistance against malaria-like diseases thanks in part due to their genes allowing them immunity than eradicating sickle cell would also mean wiping out these very helpful defenses too…ouch!

How Do You Get It Anyway?

As mentioned briefly before when explaining what exactly SCA is, it’s a genetic disorder. But what does that actually mean? Basically SCA occurs when someone inherits two copies of a mutated hemoglobin gene (one from each parent). These wonky genes cause sickle-shaped blood cells to form, which in turn leads to all sorts of nasty symptoms.

‘Well If It’s Genetic Then They Should Just STOP HAVING BABIES!’

Wow. Bold move Cotton, let’s see if it pays off for them eh? Jokes aside – this proposal isn’t the most practical solution now is it? Putting aside obvious moral objections to preventing people with sickle cell anemia from having children or creating some sort of eugenics program; there are other problems as well such as the vast majority don’t even know they have SCA until after they’ve already had kids so…whoops?!

The Malaria Connection

The mosquito-borne disease known as malaria has played a huge role in the retention of sickle cell mutations around the world. Wait wait wait – come back here we swear this science stuff will be worth reading about and fun! As anyone who has ever been wracked with chills and fever after getting bitten by Anopheles mosquitoes knows- malaria ain’t nothing nice. Scientists believed (understatement alert) that people began developing mutations linked with lower likelihoods catching malaria because those folks were really good at surviving than their non-mutated peers / It was like survival of the fittest but different/. In sub-Saharan Africa where approximately 60% of newborn babies born carry these unusual genes required for disease defense due malarial persisitance throughout history.

So why hasn’t natural selection completely eliminated these beneficial-by-recessive-gene carriers aka heterozygotes that only show mild symptoms rather than serious ones ? Well even though people rarely die directly attributable to stunted red-blood cells unless they go untreated for long periods, oddly enough each of these carriers isn’t even immune to future outbreaks! It’s just that their risk of catching it is significantly lower than the general population most times/ more good news, right guys?.

The Evolution Factor

Now let’s talk about Darwin’s favorite after-dinner topic: evolution. Back in a time before hospitals and modern medicine people with SCA were at an extreme disadvantage over others – stunting growth and limiting bodily function meant you’d become more susceptible to death – but not anymore! As society has evolved into nicer place people who live with sickle cell can now receive treatments that ease symptoms such as blood transfusions or adjustment bleeding via drugs. Also rapid detection through new genetic tests allows doctors identify cases quickly giving them more treatment options. These advancements have allowed for greater life expectancies d amongst those living so patients tend not to die young anymore; which only serves as a potential downside given SCAs hereditary nature resulting re-appearance of disease rates similar levels population despite all technological progress.

Heredity And Reproduction

This one may seem like a no-brainer,but there’s just one problem standing in the way ending sickle cells reign : reproduction. Even though some children may inherit two copies of abnormal genes from both parents while conceiving babies is very much still normal biological act failure primarily results when couples are unaware they’re passing along defective traits /now if that’s isn’t spooky we don’t know what else constitutes bizarre/. This kind vexing conundrum means infected offspring will continue being born for generations ahead – feels like Ground Hog Day doesn’t it?


So yeah…why does sickle cell anemia still exist? Unfortunately there’s no simple answer here folks.allows Natural selection might naturally weed out defective genes within sub-Saharan populations eventually someday down road . In areas where malaria maintains high prevalence rate howevery, latent immunity defense against disease protends continued existence of mutations for some time until a still – unknown solution can be found. With number treatments helps treat those who contract domain, the condition will likely continue existing as carriers pass on carrying genes to future generations. There’s so much we’ve yet to know about genetics and human biology but researchers are always discovering more treatment options hopefully progress continuesch even though there isn’t cure in sight.

Overall, while answering this question might have been a bit tougher than anticipated, the truth is that science sometimes involves both complicated medicine jargon and also broader societal forces; things that are extremely tough consider oneself an expert in given all factors at play. So let’s keep researching SCA with tenacity (and humour!) – after all anything worth doing takes patience!

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