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When Alzheimer’s is inevitable, is genetic screening any use?

| | March 10, 2016

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis.

Marty and Matt Reiswig, two brothers in Denver, knew that Alzheimer’s disease ran in their family, but neither of them understood why. Then a cousin, Gary Reiswig, whom they barely knew, wrote a book about their family, “The Thousand Mile Stare.”

When the brothers read it, they realized what they were facing.

In the extended Reiswig family, Alzheimer’s disease is not just a random occurrence. It results from a mutated gene that is passed down from parent to child.

If you inherit the mutated gene, Alzheimer’s will emerge at around age 50 — with absolute certainty. Your child has a 50-50 chance of suffering the same fate.

The revelation came as a shock. And so did the next one: The brothers learned that there is a blood test that can reveal whether one carries the mutated gene. They could decide to know if they had it. Or not.

It’s a dilemma more people are facing as scientists discover more genetic mutations linked to diseases. Often the newly discovered gene increases risk, but does not guarantee it.

Sometimes knowing can be useful: If you have a gene mutation that makes colon cancer much more likely , for example, then frequent colonoscopies may help doctors stave off trouble.

But then there are genes that make a dreaded disease a certainty: There is no way to prevent it, and no way to treat it.

Read full, original post: Screening for Alzheimer’s Gene Tests the Desire to Know

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Click the link above to read the full, original article.
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