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Glenn Nichols, surrounded by his hospice team. The author is in yellow.

Genetic Linkage

4 Suggestions for Halting the Lethality of Cancer

June 27, 2012

Tags: cancer, PSA, prostate

Brain tumors (photo from Glia, 2002, Ignatova, T. et al, courtesy D.A. Steindler.)

(Originally published at Scientific American, guest blog, June 26)

I had a very strange week. While in Washington, D.C., writing news releases for the Model Organisms to Human Biology: Cancer Genetics meeting sponsored by the Genetics Society of America, I had left, back home in upstate New York, my dear hospice patient. Ruth was nearing the end of her battle with liver cancer. It was jarring to go from holding her hand to listening to litanies of deranged signal transduction pathways and cascades of mutations that cause the damn diseases. (more…)

The Bonobo Genome, Dave Matthews, and Rewinding the Tape of Life

June 15, 2012

Tags: bonobo, chimp, genome, Janet Kelso, Svante Pääbo, Kay Prüfer, Max Planck Institute, Frans de Waal, Ape House, Planet of the Apes

Ulindi, a bonobo, has had her genome sequenced. Photo courtesy Max Plank Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
When I wrote for The Scientist, I covered the debuts of several genome sequences – fruit fly, rat, pufferfish, and the plague bacterium, to name a few. An illustration in my human genetics textbook resembles the intro to The Brady Bunch, a checkerboard of nine new genomes with each edition, now with more than 1,000 to choose from. In just the past few weeks, several salad ingredients have had their genomes unveiled.

But the genome sequence to intrigue me the most, except for our own, is that of the bonobo, aka Pan paniscus. (more…)

Max Graduates!

June 4, 2012

Tags: Canavan disease, gene therapy, Ricki Lewis, The Forever Fix: Gene Therapy and the Boy Who Saved It, Ilyce Randell, Max Randell, Canavan Research Illinois, Jewish genetic diseases

14-year-old Max Randell, who has Canavan disease, is graduating middle school!
Max Graduates!

Tomorrow night, Max Randell will graduate from middle school. He even passed a test on the U.S. Constitution. I don’t think I could do that.

Max has Canavan disease. And thanks to gene therapy, he’s here to celebrate.

Canavan disease is an inherited disease that strips the insulation from nerve cells in the brain. It destroys neural function, beginning at birth and likely before, and the child loses the battle by age 8 -- unless she or he has gene therapy, still experimental (as are all gene therapies). (more…)

instruction
Project to engage students in helping families with rare genetic diseases
Book Club Reader's Guide
Many challenging questions to stimulate thought and discussion.
Instructor's Guide
38 discussion questions to get students thinking and talking about gene therapy, including the science, ethical issues, and the drug approval process.
Narrative science
The Forever Fix is the uplifting true story of 8-year-old Corey Haas, who was cured of hereditary blindness just 4 days after gene therapy.
College Textbooks
A spectacularly-illustrated, clearly written human anatomy and physiology textbook, used in pre-health profession programs throughout the U.S.
A highly engaging, clearly written, beautifully illustrated introduction to the science of human genetics for the non-scientist. Now in its 10th edition.
Nonfiction
An ideal starting point for anyone who wants to know more about genes, DNA, genomes, and the genetic ties that bind us all.

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