Hemoglobin research and the origins of molecular medicine

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Much of our understanding of human physiology, and of many aspects of pathology, has its antecedents in laboratory and clinical studies of hemoglobin. Over the last century, knowledge of the genetics, functions, and diseases of the hemoglobin proteins has been refined to the molecular level by analyses of their crystallographic structures and by cloning and sequencing of their genes and surrounding DNA. In the last few decades, research has opened up new paradigms for hemoglobin related to processes such as its role in the transport of nitric oxide and the complex developmental control of the α-like and β-like globin gene clusters. It is noteworthy that this recent work has had implications for understanding and treating the prevalent diseases of hemoglobin, especially the use of hydroxyurea to elevate fetal hemoglobin in sickle cell disease. It is likely that current research will also have significant clinical implications, as well as lessons for other aspects of molecular medicine, the origin of which can be largely traced to this research tradition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3927-3938
Number of pages12
Issue number10
StatePublished - 15 Nov 2008
Externally publishedYes


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