Genetics


Mixed-heritage Family Deals With Genetic Tragedy

By Shoshana Olidort

When Rachaeli Fier uttered her first word — abba, or father — her parents had no idea it would be her last. Rachaeli was born a perfect baby girl, a “designer baby,” as the hospital’s delivery staff called her. Now, Eric and Nicole Fier watch helplessly as Rachaeli spirals downward in rapid, steady regression. Two-and-a-half-year-oldRead More


Breast Cancer Test Patent Causing a Furor

By Karen Iris Tucker

An American firm’s new European patent on a screening test for a genetic mutation that causes breast cancer has created an uproar among geneticists in Israel and Europe, who say the patent raises ethical questions because it targets Ashkenazic Jews.The firm, Myriad Genetics, of Salt Lake City, Utah, was granted the EuropeanRead More


Zebrafish Provide Key to Unlocking Secrets of Fanconi Anemia

By Mark I. Levenstein

The zebrafish, an inch-long fish indigenous to the Ganges River in East India and Burma, is proving to be a useful animal for understanding Fanconi Anemia.Drs. John Postlethwait and Tom Titus of the University of Oregon’s Institute of Neuroscience told the Forward that they have almost completed mapping the protein sequence of the lastRead More


Gene Found for Dystonia-related Disorder

By Mordechai Shinefield

Scientists have unlocked the gene responsible for a rare and debilitating genetic disorder.Rapid-onset dystonia-parkinsonism, or RDP, is a rare genetic disorder whose sufferers share symptoms with both dystonia and Parkinson’s disease. In an article published in the July 21 issue of the neuroscience journal Neuron, a research team detailed itsRead More


Cord Blood Transplants Eyed As Therapy for Some Diseases

By E.B. Solomont

In a medical development with potentially far-reaching effects, researchers have transplanted cord blood into newborns with a rare genetic disease, preserving their brain development and performing a life-saving treatment for babies with a fatal genetic disorder.Scientists from Duke University Medical Center and the University of North Carolina atRead More


Scientists Seek New Crohn’s Treatments

By Mordechai Shinefield

Researchers are exploring two possible new treatments — one in trials, the other still speculative — for Crohn’s disease, a genetically linked digestive-tract disorder suffered by an estimated 500,000 Americans, mostly Jews of Ashkenazic descent.Discovered by Dr. Burrill Crohn in 1932, Crohn’s, which is similar toRead More


Surgery Promises Relief for Dystonia

By Ethan Porter

When Peter Cohen entered a public swimming pool recently, he was greeted with several rounds of applause. Cohen is not a person whom one would normally expect to be met with such a reception; he has never been an Olympian, nor has he ever held public office.Merely attempting to move about freely in a pool was regarded as heroic, because, as isRead More


DNA Bank Dilemma: Who Owns the Data?

Two years ago, the Israeli company Genomica embarked on a comprehensive and unprecedented study in which DNA samples were collected from thousands of patients to build a private DNA bank for the purpose of finding new disease-causing genes.The establishment of the private DNA bank caught the Health Ministry off guard; no public debate had beenRead More


Oncologist Seeks To Develop Vaccine Against Pancreatic Cancer

By Nancy Sokoler Steiner

When Elizabeth Jaffee was studying to become a doctor, back in the 1980s, her uncle was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Yet even with her medical knowledge, “there was nothing I could even suggest,” said Jaffee, whose uncle passed away three months later. “The fact that there’s no hope bothers me more than anything.”Now Jaffee isRead More


Little Girl’s Affliction Sparks Flowering of Creativity

By Deborah Gopstein

In the close-knit community of Greenmeadow, Calif., a 2-year-old girl diagnosed with a rare Jewish genetic disease cannot talk, but her spirit speaks loudly enough to touch many people beyond her neighborhood.There is no cure for the disease afflicting Sophia Herzog-Sachs, who was diagnosed with Niemann-Pick Type A in early 2002 and whose lifeRead More





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