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

By Masha Gessen

Masha Gessen chanced on through genetic trying out that she had the scary BRCA1 genetic mutation--the similar mutation made recognized lately by way of Angelina Jolie, which predisposes ladies 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, conversing with others like her and with specialists together with scientific researchers, historians, and spiritual thinkers.

Blood concerns is a much-needed box advisor to this unusual and unsettling territory. It explores the way in which genetic details is shaping the choices we make, not just approximately our actual and emotional health and wellbeing yet approximately whom we marry, the youngsters we endure, even the character qualities we lengthy to have. And it is helping us come to phrases with the unconventional transformation that genetic info is engineering in our most elementary feel of who we're and what we would become.

 

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Extra 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

Not all Cohanim have Cohen or a variation of it as their last name: Skorecki does not. And Jewish history is ripe with examples of broken lineages, migrations, and other opportunities for impostors. The fact that in most cases a Cohen is a Cohen is a Cohen is, in its way, an affirmation of truth and honesty, which seem to have won out through a hundred generations of humans. Using DNA evidence, one could try to corroborate any story in the world: All you have to do is ask the right question. Skorecki and his colleagues have been adamant about refusing to help anyone check Cohanim claims through DNA; in any case, rabbinical authorities are not about to institute DNA checks of an oral tradition—though the possibility of doing so will certainly be discussed over and over in the coming years and decades.

This time the DNA they were testing was contemporary, but they had even less information than if they had received the tissue sample from a dig. All they knew about the bone fragment was that it came from a person who had had sickle-cell anemia. A genetic test confirmed the diagnosis. A look at the Y-chromosome DNA (the person had a Y chromosome, which made him a male) showed that his father’s family came from a Bantu heritage (the Bantu actually comprising about four hundred ethnic groups in Africa), while his mitochondrial DNA placed his maternal ancestors in West Africa—possibly Nigeria.

Had the Lemba tried to immigrate en masse, Israel, as a state, would have had to take a position on the relationship between DNA information and ethnic or religious identity. Indeed, Israel is quite likely to face this discussion sooner or later, both because it is one of a few countries that grant citizenship on the basis of ethnicity and because Jewish DNA is arguably the best-studied DNA in the world. Plus, there are still at least nine lost tribes out there. … The most obvious way to try to match DNA information against history is to try to perform genetic tests on the remains of people who lived many centuries before us.

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