How this disease changes the shape of your cells – Amber M. Yates
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How this disease changes the shape of your cells – Amber M. Yates


What shape are your cells? Squishy cylinders? Jagged zig-zags? You probably don’t think much about
the bodies of these building blocks, but at the microscopic level, small
changes can have huge consequences. And while some adaptations change
these shapes for the better, others can spark a cascade of
debilitating complications. This is the story of sickle-cell disease. Sickle-cell disease affects the
red blood cells, which transport oxygen from the lungs
to all the tissues in the body. To perform this vital task, red blood cells are filled with hemoglobin
proteins to carry oxygen molecules. These proteins float independently inside the red blood cell’s pliable,
doughnut-like shape, keeping the cells flexible enough to accommodate even the
tiniest of blood vessels. But in sickle cell disease, a single genetic mutation alters
the structure of hemoglobin. After releasing oxygen to tissues, these mutated proteins lock
together into rigid rows. Rods of hemoglobin cause the cell
to deform into a long, pointed sickle. These red blood cells are
harder and stickier, and no longer flow smoothly through
blood vessels. Sickled cells snag and pile up– sometimes blocking the vessel completely. This keeps oxygen from reaching
a variety of cells, causing the wide range of symptoms experienced by people
with sickle-cell disease. Starting when they’re
less than a year old, patients suffer from repeated episodes of
stabbing pain in oxygen-starved tissues. The location of the clogged vessel determines the specific
symptoms experienced. A blockage in the spleen,
part of the immune system, puts patients at risk for
dangerous infections. A pileup in the lungs can produce
fevers and difficulty breathing. A clog near the eye can cause vision
problems and retinal detachment. And if the obstructed vessels
supply the brain the patient could even
suffer a stroke. Worse still, sickled red blood cells
also don’t survive very long— just 10 or 20 days, versus a
healthy cell’s 4 months. This short lifespan means that patients live with a constantly
depleted supply of red blood cells; a condition called sickle-cell anemia. Perhaps what’s most surprising
about this malignant mutation is that it originally evolved
as a beneficial adaptation. Researchers have been able to trace
the origins of the sickle cell mutation to regions historically ravaged
by a tropical disease called malaria. Spread by a parasite found
in local mosquitoes, malaria uses red blood cells as incubators to spread quickly and lethally
through the bloodstream. However, the same structural changes
that turn red blood cells into roadblocks also make them more resistant to malaria. And if a child inherits a copy of the
mutation from only one parent, there will be just enough abnormal
hemoglobin to make life difficult for the
malaria parasite, while most of their red blood cells retain
their normal shape and function. In regions rife with this parasite, sickle cell mutation offered a serious
evolutionary advantage. But as the adaptation flourished, it became clear that inheriting the
mutation from both parents resulted in sickle-cell anemia. Today, most people with
sickle-cell disease can trace their ancestry to a country
where malaria is endemic. And this mutation still plays a key role
in Africa, where more than 90% of malaria
infections occur worldwide. Fortunately, as this “adaptation” thrives, our treatment for sickle cell continues
to improve. For years, hydroxyurea was the only
medication available to reduce the amount of sickling, blunting symptoms and
increasing life expectancy. Bone marrow transplantations
offer a curative measure, but these procedures are
complicated and often inaccessible. But promising new medications
are intervening in novel ways, like keeping oxygen bonded to
hemoglobin to prevent sickling, or reducing the stickiness
of sickled cells. And the ability to edit DNA has raised the possibility of enabling
stem cells to produce normal hemoglobin. As these tools become available in the areas most affected by malaria
and sickle cell disease, we can improve the quality of life for more patients with this
adverse adaptation.

100 thoughts on “How this disease changes the shape of your cells – Amber M. Yates

  1. ah I thought it was just that the cells couldn't hold enough oxygen, very information, the animations help a lot!

  2. I remember talking to some classmates a few weeks ago. We were talking about how we definitely need to get rid of malaria to cure SCD. If the sickle cell shape was an evolutionary response to malaria, it makes sense that we would also need to get rid of it to prevent SCD from coming back.
    On that note, SCD treatment has been improving greatly and it's really cool seeing people be more aware of how terrible this disease can be.

  3. I only knew about this because of Cells at Work (the main Red Blood Cell character is probably a sickle cell)

  4. What an awesome video as always. I've always thought that a red blood cell only had one haemoglobin and only carried 4 oxygen molecules. After watching this, I've got a clearer picture now. Thanks~

  5. Thank you for this video! I have sickle cell and awareness is scarce, it’s finally being talked about on a international scale

  6. 😀 Thank you for spreading awareness about sickle cell disease. Thank you ❤️ informative, helpful and educative. Very useful. ❤️ we are so blessed because we are healthy. My parents have Good genes. Let's spread the awareness. Thank you ❤️

  7. so red blood cell from cells at work who is a red sicle blood cell is a bad guy…top 10 anime betrayals

  8. Those of us with Sickle Cell are excited that others will understand what we go through a little better. People who don't know what it's like are making jokes. And the world keeps spinning.

  9. I have the trait so I don't really get symptoms but i am glad that this is being shown and shared to thoes who may not know what sickle cell is and are now learning about it.

  10. Awesome Animation Teded Needs at least 25Million Subcribers for their work let’s support them by Donating At Patreon.com/Teded 😀

  11. This is fascinating! I had no idea of the origins relating to malaria! It's sort of reassuring that it has it's benefits and isn't entirely a hindering disease but a legitimate, unwittingly innovative human adaptation. I'm glad to understand it a little more.

  12. I really like this video format (the animations with live footage cuts) – please make more like this.

  13. To be honest schools should hire you. I’m learning more important stuff than school teaching me how to do 90 x 10 even though my parents and myself have calculators on us at all times

  14. Awesome video…
    Love Ted ed as a Biology student…
    Please add bengali Subtitles for better understanding

  15. Thank you so much Ted- Ed for doing the research and actually looking into this and spreading an awareness of this. I have Sickle Cell Anemia and not many people know much about it. Thank you so much for this video Ted-Ed.

  16. Genetic mutations happen at a completely random level, saying that this is an adaptation makes it sound like sicke cell disease was a deliberate adaptation against malaria, which it cannot have been. Due to this reason, I think it would be good to clarify why it is the narrator claims that this adaptation took place in malaria stricken countries. In any case, great video Ted-Ed, just have this small complaint.

  17. I read about this disease in my Chemistry book and learned a little about it in school
    Thanks to this video, it helped me learn more about it

  18. I also have sickle cell anemia and I’m always looking to learn more about my illness. Videos like these not only help sickle cell patients learn but also help raise awareness and teach others about our illness. Thank you so much Ted-Ed

  19. My two youngest siblings don’t have sickle cell disease but they do have sickle cell trait and never knew the difference until seeing this video.😱 at least I can conclude they don’t have the actual disease, whew.

  20. Can a person with sickel-disease exersise? Or do hard work that need to have oxygen in some area or that would be dangerouse for them ?

  21. for keeping oxygen bonded to hemoglobin to prevent sickling, or reducing the stickiness of sickled cells what medicine are you suggesting? My son who is 4.5 years old has sickle cell anemia and it is 55% so what suggestions do you have in addition to hydroxyurea?

  22. Sickle-cell anemia only occurs in 2 carriers marrying each other
    a carrier is a person that has only one of two defective copies that affects DNA
    2 defective copies is dangerous
    Carrier ❤️ Carrier = 1/4 chance of 2 copies

  23. 1:36 yyyuuupppp, when I was 4 years old I had to get a spleenectomy due to constant crises in the spleen (eventually filled with blood and was visible from the outside) I was constantly in the hospital as well, I would be out one day and the next day I had to go back in.

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