15.1.07

Testing, testing, 1 2 3


Gene 'increases Alzheimer's risk'

People born with a particular gene may have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease later in life, according to researchers.

Canadian and US scientists linked the illness with the SORL1 gene.

The gene produces a protein that may play a role in getting rid of the build-up of chemicals that can damage the brain.

The study, in Nature Genetics, suggested people with Alzheimer's have less of this protein in their blood.


The story being run by the BBC announces that a gene has finally been linked to Alzheimer's, which offers the potential for pre-testing to identify people who may develop the disease. Knowing in advance that you will likely develop Alzheimer's would give you the opportunity to prepare for the eventuality by arranging care, letting family and friends know what to expect, making some essential decisions earlier rather than later in life, etc. On the flip side, knowing what future awaits you could bring on dark thoughts of suicide, risk-taking behaviour, or resentment of those people around you who don't carry the Alzheimer's gene.

I have strong suspicions about my capacity for long and short term memory. No, I don't believe I have early onset Alzheimer's, but I really have a lot of trouble remembering facts, figures, details, etc. I used to harass my mom all the time about her dreadful memory, but it's obviously been passed on to me.

So, this new announcement raises the question, do I want to know if I am a prime candidate for Alzheimer's? Would you get yourself checked? Factors like having a family member who has Alzheimer's might sway your decision one way or the other, or if you have children you may want to know because planning for the future gets even more complicated. Additionally, to those of you with sprogs (kids), would you have a child tested for the gene, or for other genes that describe other diseases? For now let's not touch the subject of in utero testing and all the baggage that question brings with it, so let's just say it has been suggested that either you or your child be tested for the Alzheime's gene. How do you feel? What questions do you have? Do you get it done?

5 comments:

  1. Anonymous7:37 PM

    Uh, who are you again? Uh, who am I again?

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  2. I wouldn't test my child for something that isn't going to show up for a very long time. That is for them to decide. Kids are labeled enough.

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  3. I think that first comment is from my mom...

    Stace, I agree. I guess Alzheimer's is a special case in this context because it certainly isn't something that will present within the years that the child has limited logic and reaons. What about the possibility that now it's been identified, doctors will be able to prevent the disease if it's caught early enough?

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  4. I suppose that it would depend on how early is early? And what would the treatment look like? Gene therapy? Too many what ifs.

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  5. Anonymous12:58 PM

    I think I would want to know so I could take preventative measures, through diet and stuff ,to postpone the onset. You could also be a lot more prepared. Kath

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