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Persistence Of Fetal Hemoglobin

Fetal hemoglobin is the main oxygen transport protein in the human fetus during the last seven months of development in the uterus and persists in the newborn until roughly 6 months old, moment in which it is substituted by adult hemoglobin.

Functionally, fetal hemoglobin differs most from adult hemoglobin in that it is able to bind oxygen with greater affinity than the adult form, giving the developing fetus better access to oxygen from the mother´s bloodstream.

In some cases, the rate of said hemoglobin over the years does not diminish but rather maintains its uninterrupted synthesis in adulthood. In healthy patients, harmful effects or anemia have not been detected, even when the hemoglobin produced is fetal.

At present, research is being carried out to find ways to activate fetal hemoglobin to combat sickle-cell anemia or B- thalassemias which can cause symptoms such as:

  • Breathing difficulty
  • Dizziness
  • Head ache
  • Sensation of cold in hands and feet
  • Abnormal paleness in skin or mucus membranes
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)

Gene or region studied

  • BCL11A
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