Genetics


Drug May Prolong Lives of Tay-Sachs Babies

By Shoshana Olidort

For the first time ever, infants with Tay-Sachs disease may have a fighting chance at prolonging their lives.In July, the pharmaceutical company Actelion approved a contract for clinical trials of the drug Zavesca for treatment of infants with Tay-Sachs disease. The proposal marks the first clinical trial ever to involve infants suffering from theRead More


NYU Move To Offer 16 Tests Ups the Ante for Screening

By Talia Bloch

In September, New York University Medical Center will become the first medical facility in the country to offer Ashkenazic Jewish couples tests for 16 inheritable genetic diseases, an expansion from the nine tests it offered until a year ago. Welcomed by some in the medical community as an advance in patient care, the move is prompting others toRead More


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


Supplements Holding Hope As Treatment For Canavan

By E.B. Solomont

New research indicates that acetate supplements may be an effective therapy for Canavan disease, a degenerative and ultimately fatal disorder of the brain and central nervous system.Currently, there is no cure for Canavan disease, a recessive genetic disorder that is carried by one in 40 Ashkenazic Jews. Canavan patients have a mutation of theRead More


‘Neverland’ Producer Searches for a Cure to Son’s Bloom’s Syndrome

By Ariella Cohen

In the press notes to the 2004 movie “Finding Neverland,” director Mark Forster ruminates on the “deep human need for illusions and dreams” and “belief in the face of tragedy.”Producer Richard Gladstein does not offer anything quite so sentimental when I ask him, about one year after the film’s blockbuster success, to muse on itsRead More


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