Researchers have discovered the first mutations responsible for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer among “pure” Sephardi Jews, leading to calls for a more comprehensive genetic test for high-risk women in Israel. “When a woman of Sephardic origin used to come to our clinic, we would tell her, ‘You are not Ashkenazi, so you might have a mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2, but it is hard to find it,’” said Dr. Michal Sagi, a genetic counselor at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, referencing the two genes that predispose women to breast and ovarian cancer.
Screening for genetic disorders has come a long way since the first tests for Tay-Sachs disease in the late 1960s. At the time, clinicians screened the Jewish community by measuring enzyme levels in people’s blood. But in the late 1980s, newer genetic tests became available for Tay-Sachs and, soon after, for a range of other so-called “Jewish genetic diseases” including Canavan disease, cystic fibrosis and Fanconi anemia.
Genetics has long been thought to play a relatively minor role when it comes to the development of Parkinson’s disease. So it came as a surprise to the medical community five years ago when Dr. Susan Bressman and her colleagues at the Beth Israel Medical Center in New York reported that a single genetic mutation in a gene called LRRK2 accounted for a significant portion of all cases of Parkinson’s disease among Ashkenazi Jews.
Scientists are using a revolutionary technique to pinpoint genetic problems that cause a rare eye disorder. It could transform treatments and prevent blindness.
Jewish lore tells of trade and other exchanges with sub-Saharan Africa. A new scientific paper uses DNA to prove an ancient genetic link between Jews and Africans.
Jews are much more likely than others to contract Crohn’s disease, leading scientists to suspect a genetic link. Could kosher diet and an urban lifestyle be the real cause?
You thought “goy” is a derogatory word for a non-Jew? Incorrect.
Ten years ago, the first-ever bone-marrow transplant was performed using the umbilical cord blood of a baby deliberately selected and implanted through a combination of in-vitro fertilization and genetic testing to save the life of his older sibling.
In this audio slideshow, author Laurie Strongin speaks with the Forward’s Nate Lavey about her efforts to save her son Henry, who was diagnosed with Fanconi Anemia — a genetic disease most common in Ashkenazic Jews.
What is the essence of Jewish identity? Is it revealed in the choices we make, like giving tzedakah or observing the Sabbath, or is it in our genetic code? Is it a matter of faith, or a matter of heritability? Is it something we can choose, or is it a biological imperative embedded in nearly every cell of our body?