Healthy, intermediate, and sickle red blood cells, SEM

Healthy, intermediate, and sickle red blood cells, SEM

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Credit: DENNIS KUNKEL MICROSCOPY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Healthy, intermediate and sickle human red blood cells (oblong, tapered cells), coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM). Sickle-cell anaemia (SCA) is a hereditary blood disorder, where red blood cells develop an abnormal sickle-shaped morphology. This change in shape decreases the cell's flexibility and results in life-threatening complications. Because of a mutation in the haemoglobin gene individuals with 1 copy of the mutant gene produce a mixture of both normal and abnormal haemoglobin containing red blood cells. Sickle-cell anaemia is a form of sickle-cell disease in which there is homozygosity for the mutation. Magnification: x1,200 when shortest axis printed at 25 millimetres.

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