Genetics


Annual Guide to Jewish Genetic Diseases

The Forward presents this section to provide information on some of the more serious Jewish genetic diseases. There are about 20 “Ashkenazic diseases,” not counting the higher rates of at least four cancer-related genes. The diseases are more prevalent in the Eastern European Jewish population because of centuries of endogamy, literally,Read More


LOTS Sufferers Combat Ignorance as Well as Symptoms

By Rachel Zuckerman

When people find out Shirley Webb has late onset Tay-Sachs disease (LOTS), their reactions have ranged from “But you’re older than 5 years old!” to “Why are you alive?” Once, at work, someone saw her pull away from her desk in her wheelchair and exclaimed, “I didn’t know you were crippled!”At 66, Webb, a co-founder of theRead More


Drug Trial Brings Hope to Late Onset Tay-Sachs Patients

By Rachel Zuckerman

Doctors are experimenting with an oral medication known as Zavesca as a possible treatment for late onset Tay-Sachs (LOTS) disease, it was reported at a conference in Philadelphia last month.New York University School of Medicine and Cleveland University Hospital both launched trials using the drug, whose chemical name is OGT918 or miglustat, onRead More


How a Mother Overcame a Malady

By Andrea Schleider

Kathryn Goldstein* of Monroe, N.Y., has no medical background, but this proud Orthodox mother of 11 has become an expert on one Jewish genetic disease. Three of her children were diagnosed with the genetic disorder, congenital hyperinsulinism.In 1978, after a healthy full-term pregnancy, Kathryn gave birth to Amanda, her seventh child. Two hoursRead More


Usher Gene Discovered

By Lea Winerman

Scientists have pinpointed the gene mutation responsible for most cases of Usher syndrome type 1 in Ashkenazi Jews. The syndrome is a genetic disorder that causes deafness from birth and progressive blindness beginning before age 10.The discovery, first reported in The New England Journal of Medicine in April, will allow doctors to more easily andRead 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


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