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


Treatment Seen for Familial Dysautonomia

By Jonathan Friedman

Two New York doctors have discovered a treatment that is raising hope for sufferers of one of the Jewish genetic diseases.Sylvia Anderson and Berish Rubin, both of the Laboratory for Familial Dysautonomia Research at Fordham University, announced in May that a variant of vitamin E, tocotrienols, is effective as a treatment for familialRead More


Stem Cell Exports to Germany Causing Controversy in Israel

Two Israeli institutions, Haifa’s Technion Israel Institute of Technology and Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, began exporting stem cells culled from human embryos to Germany this year, arousing a storm of controversy within both countries’ scientific and medical communities.Because stem cells have enormous medical potential, many scientists,Read More


Doctor Writes ‘Epic Saga’ Of Jews in Medicine

By Max Gross

As Frank Heynick was nearing the completion of his gigantic tome, “Jews and Medicine: An Epic Saga,” he came across the name of an important doctor, George Sternberg, whom he had neglected to mention.The discovery of Sternberg did not make Heynick happy.“I got through a lot of trimming to keep it at 600 pages,” Heynick said. The ideaRead More


Colon Cancer Seen Linked to Bloom Gene

By Ross Schneiderman

Ashkenazi Jews are two to three times more likely to develop colon cancer if they carry the gene for Bloom syndrome, according to a September 2002 study by American and Israeli researchers.Dr. Kenneth Offit, senior author of the study and chief of the clinical genetics service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, saidRead More


Procedure Offers Hope for Families

By Rachel Zuckerman

Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, a fairly new procedure that allows embryos created outside the uterus to be screened for genetic diseases, has been embraced by some Jewish couples who carry the mutations for diseases such as Tay-Sachs. But even as the procedure, known as PGD, offers these families the hope of healthy children — and in theoryRead More


Finding Your Roots

The search for Jewish roots in Germany may be easier now, thanks to a new research center that opened last fall.The Ephraim Gustav Hoenlein Genealogy Project is designed to help Jews of Germanic descent trace their origins. It is a joint project of the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation and the Jewish Community of Würzburg.“This will hopefullyRead More


A New Treatment for Gaucher? Compound Intrigues

By Lea Winerman

Researchers have developed a chemical compound that could lead to a new treatment for Gaucher disease, the most common genetic disease among Ashkenazi Jews, which causes problems including anemia, poor blood clotting, an enlarged liver and spleen, bone damage and, in the most serious cases, neurological problems.The newly discovered compoundRead More


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