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Sickle Cell Genetic Markers

Gary Brittenham, MD
JAMA. 1973;225(9):1120. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220370058022.
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To the Editor.—  In the article by Gelpi and Perrine (224:605, 1973), part of the speculation on the origin of the sickle cell gene is based on an error in fact. The authors state "... it is clear that the Ro (cDe) blood group gene complex, considered to be a reliable genetic marker for African Negro populations, occurs at high frequency among the same populations of Arabia and tribal groups of central and southern India that are known to have moderate to high frequencies of the sickle cell trait." While it is true that some tribal groups in Central India (Koraput, Orissa) with the sickle cell trait possess 4-13% of the chromosome Ro (cDe), the so-called Veddoid tribes of South India (the Irula, Kurumba, and Paniyan) do not. Lehmann was the first to describe the presence of the sickle cell trait among these South Indian groups, and he specifically searched


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