Restless genes

Eric Wassermann ewass at codon.nih.gov
Fri Sep 22 13:50:32 EST 1995


In article <44219.robin073 at maroon.tc.umn.edu>, "Alan J. Robinson"
<robin073 at maroon.tc.umn.edu> wrote:

> Eric:
> 
> There is growing evidence from many lines of research 
> (epidemiological, theraupeutic, etc.) that the majority of functional 
> neurological, psychiatric, and immune disorders are more or less 
> related to one another in various ways.  Individual disorders do tend 
> to "breed true", but almost invariably for both the proband and the 
> rest of the lineage there will be other comorbid symptoms and 
> disorders (e.g. migraines, photophobia etc, etc.)
> 
> Thus it is quite possible that there could be genes which strongly 
> determine whether an individual will develop a particular disorder or 
> syndrome, but many other genes will have an effect too, leading to the 
> appearance of reduced penetrance and expression.  That these are 
> multigene disorders is finally starting to sink in (see the special 
> issue of Science 264 (Jun 17) 1994 - Genetics and behavior.)
> 
> This whole area of medicine is ripe for revolutionary change in 
> our concepts of nosology, etiology etc.

Well golly, as a neuroscientist and practicing neurologist, all this comes
as a bit of a surprise.  I guess i'd better throw out my outdated
Mendelian concept of inherited disease and look for environmental and
polygenic influences next time I see a demented patient with chorea whose
father and grandmother and great grandfather and great great grandmother
and great great great...Not to mention checking for that photophobia!  

If he asks me what the chances are that his kids will get the same thing
I'll just shrug and say "well, hard to tell.  It depends on a lot of
different genes and stuff. Heck, all these disorders are related anywayz,
so theres a chance your kids will end up with Bassen-Kornzweig disease or
seasonal affective disorder instead."  I won't worry about the
accumulation of trinucleotide repeats in that little old locus on
chromosome 4 and all that outmoded 20th century garbage.  I guess that
genetic testing they're talking about at the country club is a bunch of
hooey too.  

That's why I love usenet.  You learn something new every day.


Eric



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