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The HBB gene encodes an important blood protein called beta globin. A person with beta-thalassemia carries a mutation in both copies of the HBB gene, completely halting production of the beta globin protein. Without beta globin, the important oxygen-carrying protein, hemoglobin, can not be made. Although oxygen can be carried by a less efficient form of hemoglobin, most of the affected red blood cells die.
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