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Histology, microscopy, anatomy and disease
Histology, microscopy, anatomy and disease

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3.5 Identify an abnormality – part II

In the next activity you will be using the virtual microscope again.

Activity 5

Open the virtual microscope [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] in a new window or tab.

Spend a few minutes comparing Slide 6 in the ‘Week 1’ category within the virtual microscope with the normal blood smear (Slide 1). Can you identify anything unusual in this smear?

Note down your thoughts.


You may have noticed that some of the blood cells shown in Slide 6 look distinctly different from those found in the normal blood smear (Slide 1).

Specifically, many of the red blood cells in Slide 6 are elongated or have a sickle shape, compared to those in the normal blood smear. This is an example of sickle cell disease.

Sickle cell disease occurs as a result of a genetic variation in haemoglobin, which causes it to become less soluble. In people who have two genes for the condition (homozygous), the haemoglobin distorts the erythrocytes, producing the characteristic sickle cells, which are less able to flow through the blood capillaries.