Blood Matters: From Inherited Illness to Designer Babies, by Masha Gessen

By Masha Gessen

Masha Gessen chanced on through genetic checking out that she had the scary BRCA1 genetic mutation--the comparable mutation made well-known lately through Angelina Jolie, which predisposes girls to ovarian and breast melanoma. As Gessen wrestled with a wrenching own decision—what to do with such knowledge—she explored the panorama of a courageous new global, talking with others like her and with specialists together with clinical researchers, historians, and non secular thinkers.

Blood issues is a much-needed box advisor to this strange and unsettling territory. It explores the best way genetic info is shaping the choices we make, not just approximately our actual and emotional wellbeing and fitness yet approximately whom we marry, the youngsters we undergo, even the character characteristics we lengthy to have. And it is helping us come to phrases with the unconventional transformation that genetic details is engineering in our most simple experience of who we're and what we'd become.

 

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Additional info for Blood Matters: From Inherited Illness to Designer Babies, How the World and I Found Ourselves in the Future of the Gene

Sample text

Then I was born. Now I have grown and become a girl. ” The calm simplicity of that story pleased me, but I worried now about what I had passed on. My overconfidence about my own hereditary fortune affected my daughter too: When I gave her my mother’s name, I was certain she would take only the best. Women who know they have a cancer-gene mutation are, I have discovered, rarely so cavalier. I have talked to young women who would rather adopt a child with an entirely unknown health history than risk passing on the possibility of breast cancer.

So tragic. ” I felt a bit like an impostor: I did not have cancer. I had come to realize that my admission to the cancer caste, conditional as it was, was but a temporary substitute for the yet-unrecognized group of which I had become a member. It was not quite a secret society, but it did live, invisibly, by a set of rules different from those of the rest of the world. In this society, people become privy to the information contained in their genes and reshape their bodies—and their fates—accordingly.

One in fourteen Ashkenazi Jews is a carrier of the Gaucher’s mutation. None of these conditions is unique to Jews, but they are more common among the Ashkenazim than in any other population. The fact that they share some features—all are enzyme deficiencies, and all but Canavan are what are called lipid-storage diseases—has long led scientists to suspect that this is no accident. Neither bad luck nor genetic drift can explain the emergence of different mutations (each of the conditions can result from one of several) that affect different genes but cause similar processes to occur in the body.

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