Death by Genetics

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In “Curse and Blessing of the Ghetto” an article written by Scientist Jared Diamond, the author brings into light a disease known as Tay-Sachs, a genetic disease and incurable disease. For centuries Tay-Sachs has been seen in many ethnicities, but one statistic that surprised the scientist was the fact that Ashkenazims (or also known as Eastern European Jews) appeared to have the disease a hundred times more frequently. If the disease appeared once in every 400,000 births, then this would mean that Children with Eastern European descent had Tay Sachs appear once in every 3,600 births. This information alone leaves the reader to think, How could just one ethnicity have greater numbers of a certain disease?

After years of research it has been seen that it is a certain recessive gene found in the child’s DNA is the cause of this horrid disease. Because the gene is recessive, both parents must be carriers of the gene where they have gotten it from one of their parents and so on and so forth through generations upon generations. Who would have known a couple would be creating and giving life to this child and giving it the genes that will ultimately kill it.

The author goes on to predict possible theories on how the gene may have come to be. The information he gives stating how this one disease could possibly make us immune to another causes me as a reader to think, perhaps because the Jews were forced into the Tuberculosis infested ghettos is it possible for the Ashkenazic’s genes to adapt (or mutate) giving them immunity to TB. However, when that gene is paired inside a child it creates a reaction preventing the production of the Hexosainidase, A enzyme further leading to the build up of Gm2 in their cell’s membranes. This has been seen in cases with Sickle cell where the person’s immune system because of this disease is immune to the Malaria. In studies sent to the possible carriers of the gene, TB was a possible killer of their grandparents death. This leads...
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