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HPR4027: Today I learnt (2023-12-18)

Hosted by Dave Morriss on 2024-01-09 00:00:00
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TIL 1 and 2 - a cure for Sickle Cell Anemia / fetal hemoglobin

Note: many of the words used here have alternative UK (and Commonwealth) spellings versus USA spellings. I am using the USA versions throughout, though I personally prefer the UK versions with their diphthongs and ligatures like fœtal, but I blame my education for the bias!

TLDR 1: A potential cure was approved in the UK in November 2023 for the blood disorder called Sickle Cell Anemia.

TLDR 2: The oxygen-carrying pigment in fetuses is different from that in adults, and changes after birth.

  • I am interested in all types of science, but particularly in Biology of all sorts (I have a BSc degree in Zoology).
  • I was listening to a podcast where the subject of a potential treatment for Sickle Cell Anemia was discussed:
    • Sickle Cell Disease is an inherited blood disorder resulting in anemia which has many complications and can be fatal. It is caused by an abnormality in haemoglobin. It's a rather complex subject which we will not go into here, though the Wikipedia page has a lot of useful information.
    • A new treatment has been developed using genetic manipulation (CRISPR), which increases the amount of fetal hemoglobin (Hemoglobin F) produced by the stem cells in the bone marrow.
    • Red blood cells with Hemoglobin F do not form the sickle shape.
  • A "foetus" (UK) or "fetus" (US) is the unborn offspring that develops from an animal embryo.
  • Hemoglobin is the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells. In the fetus it is different from that in the adult, and is called Hemoglobin F. Normally the fetal form is replaced by the adult form after birth in the first 2-4 months.
  • Quote from Wikipedia: Hemoglobin F has a different composition than adult forms of hemoglobin, allowing it to bind (or attach to) oxygen more strongly; this in turn enables the developing fetus to retrieve oxygen from the mother's bloodstream, which occurs through the placenta found in the mother's uterus.
  • The change from fetal to adult haemoglobin has been known about for many years (75+?) but I had never heard of it until recently.

TIL 3 - Perl's birthday

  • The Perl scripting language was "born" in 1987 on December 18th.
  • See the Github commit for the first released version
  • I'm a long-time devotee of Perl, and my birthday is the same day! I didn't know this until today ☺
    I'm more than twice as old though...
  • I find it quite interesting to look at the original ideas behind Perl, which you can see on Github.


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