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Sickle Cells

November 4, 2011 at 11:10 am
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By Billie Rubin, Hemoglobin's Catabolic Cousin, reporting from the labs of Stanford Blood Center

Sickle cells are abnormally shaped red blood cells (RBCs) caused by a mutation of the hemoglobin gene (Hgb S). Their less flexible, sickle-like shape leaves them unable to get through small capillaries, resulting in obstructed blood vessels in many organs. In addition, because of this sickle shape, the RBCs are sequestered and destroyed in the spleen at a faster rate than normal cells.


Rarest ABO Type – Bombay Phenotype

October 26, 2011 at 12:00 pm
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By Billie Rubin, Hemoglobin's Catabolic Cousin, reporting from the labs of Stanford Blood Center

Just in case the excitement of the ABO blood group system was beginning to subside, there is one other very, very rare ABO type first described in India. It is known as the "Bombay phenotype" and on the surface it looks like a type O. It is found in one out of 10,000 people in India, and one in a million in Europe.


Shark Antibodies

October 7, 2011 at 11:04 am
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By Billie Rubin, Hemoglobin's Catabolic Cousin, reporting from the labs of Stanford Blood Center

It turns out that sharks are not just robust killers of the ocean but that they have robust immune systems, too. Who knew? They rarely fall prey to infections and are exceptionally resilient. According to studies at La Trobe University in Melbourne, their antibodies can attach themselves to human cancer cells and actually stop them from spreading. It may also be possible that their antibodies could be used to fight other conditions such as malaria or rheumatoid arthritis.


ABO Mutations

September 30, 2011 at 8:00 am
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By Billie Rubin, Hemoglobin's Catabolic Cousin, reporting from the labs of Stanford Blood Center

You may have heard of geometric shapes that are infinitely complex like clouds or snowflakes, but there's also our complicated little ABO (blood group) system.


Your White Blood Cells at Work

September 8, 2011 at 2:11 pm
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By Billie Rubin, Hemoglobin's Catabolic Cousin, reporting from the labs of Stanford Blood Center

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Many of us are familiar with the role of red blood cells (RBCs) in taking oxygen throughout the body via the hemoglobin molecules they have inside, and of our platelets' ability to help prevent bleeding through creating clots. But white blood cells (WBCs), our immune system warriors, are a little more mysterious. They make up a complicated system of T-killer cells, T helper cells, antigen-presenting cells, antibody-producing cells, plus others. When a unit of un-coagulated whole blood is spun down to separate components, the white blood cells appear, creating a thin, white layer between the plasma and RBCs.


Magical Powers of the Color Red

August 25, 2011 at 10:30 am
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By Billie Rubin, Hemoglobin's Catabolic Cousin, reporting from the labs of Stanford Blood Center

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Red, the color of blood, was once thought to have magical powers. Cro-Magnon man painted the sick and dead red, hoping to contain the life force. Early Egyptians painted their bodies with blood to ward off sickness. Later, pastes and dyes were substituted in the practice - a forerunner of makeup. In early England, red coverings were put on beds to treat smallpox, and strips of red cloth were used as cures for scarlet fever.


Blood Collection in 1918

August 12, 2011 at 10:12 am
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By Billie Rubin

Towards the end of WWI, blood collection equipment consisted of a 1,000cc glass bottle with two perforated rubber stoppers. Glass tubing through each stopper was attached to rubber tubing, each with a needle at the end. One needle was for the donor, the other for the patient (probably one soldier to another), and suction was created with a syringe.


A Magic Potion

July 15, 2011 at 3:28 pm
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By Billie Rubin

Cryoprecipitate is a blood product made from frozen plasma. The plasma is slowly thawed, then sent through a centrifuge, a machine that spins and sorts blood components based on their masses. The "cold precipitate" protein that is left behind after most of the liquid plasma is removed is the cryoprecipitate.