"The Fortune Teller" By Kenneth S. Kosik, The Sciences, Jul/Aug 1999, Pp.13 17.

661 words - 3 pages

Summary PaperThe Fortune Teller"Will the secrets of genetic destiny bring comfort or onlymore sorrow to a remote land ravaged by violence?"The Fortune Teller, Kenneth S. Kosik, The Sciences, Jul/Aug 1999, pp.13-17.Kenneth S. Kosik is a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and an attending physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, where he was a cofounder of the Memory Disorders Clinic. In October of 1992, he was introduced to neurologist Francisco Lopera. Lopera had tracked 12 interrelated families living in Columbia, all suffering from a mysterious early-onset form of dementia. Kosik agreed to assist Lopera in a search for the gene mutation responsible for what they were to find was a rare from of Alzheimer's. As they do their research this disease, Kosik finds himself in a position where he is able to tell if someone will die of this disease, with a simple blood test done at any age. Forced to decide whether or not people should have this information, Kosik asks himself "Will knowledge of their destiny bring comfort, or only more sorrow?"Because of religious beliefs and cultural traditions, Kosik found it difficult to find a deceased individual to examine. The only way to diagnose Alzheimer's definitively is to do a microscopic study of brain tissue. They were finally able to get their tissue sample, however, and proved that the disease was, in fact, Alzheimer's.This form of Alzheimer's, the kind that strikes the young, leaves the same signs in the brain as the more common variety: knotty clumps of beta-amyloid, a type of protein. Kosik's hope is that an understanding of this rare form of the disease will lead to a treatment or cure for the common one. A search for the gene at fault was begun.Shortly before the gene was located, a meeting between the researchers and the affected families was held. The families were indeed aware of the trend in...

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