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Genetic Linkage

New Treatment for Phenylketonuria (PKU) Clears Brain Fog

In the 1959 novella Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (and the 1968 film Charly), 32-year-old Charlie Gordon, a janitor at a New York City bakery, undergoes experimental surgery that has boosted the intelligence of a laboratory mouse, Algernon. Soon, Charlie is devouring books, asking questions, and even solving problems at work. But then Algernon dies, and in a short while Charlie returns to his normal state of intellectual dullness. But now he becomes distraught, recognizing his limitations in a way that he didn’t before the surgery.

Dan Peterson is about Charlie’s age, and he, too, has recently experienced a new clarity of thinking thanks to a treatment. In Dan’s case it’s an enzyme substitution therapy called Palynziq (pegvaliase-pqpz), which he injects under his skin daily. FDA approved it on May 24 to treat phenylketonuria (PKU). But unlike Charlie’s brief experience, Dan’s treatment should last. Read More 
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When Mutation Counters Infection: From Sickle Cell to Ebola

Balanced polymorphism retains mutant genes in populations when they protect against other conditions.
While pharmaceutical companies focus on drug discovery for Ebola virus disease, a powerful clue is coming from a rare “Jewish genetic disease” that destroys the brain. People with Niemann-Pick C1 disease can’t get Ebola, adding to the list of disease pairs that arise from a fascinating form of natural selection.

Balanced polymorphism, aka heterozygote advantage, is a terrific illustration of ongoing evolution. And it pits the human body against all sorts of invaders – prions, viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and fungi. Read More 
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