DNA and Cystic Fibrosis
From the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
The discovery of DNA's double helix structure fifty years ago led to an unprecedented blossoming of scientific research and discovery, but some of the hoped-for medical applications of this science have been slower to materialize. In 1989, soon after Courtney and Lindsay Collacutt were diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, the gene responsible for this inherited respiratory disease was isolated. Since children with CF at that time rarely lived beyond their teens or young adulthood, the sisters' parents were elated by predictions that genetically-based treatments might be available within 3-5 years, and a cure within perhaps 10 or 12 years. Though improvements in other forms of treatment have enabled the girls to live active and relatively normal lives, the hope for a cure has not been realized. They still face an uncertain future.
Johanna Rommens, PhD, a member of the team which isolated the CF gene, comments that they had underestimated the complexity of the actions of a single gene, its possible interactions with other genes, and other factors. Still, important progress is still being made. The sister's parents note that, while a genetic cure may not come in time to help their daughters, there is real hope for their grandchildren.
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Measuring Up: Should prenatal genetic testing determine who is to be born? Families who have had children with serious genetic conditions discuss their own choices, with commentary by several bioethicists and genetic scientists.
DNA: Discovering the Blueprint: Looks back at the astounding discovery, 50 years ago, of the structure of the genetic code, and recognizes the crucial but often unrecognized role played by a woman scientist, Rosalind Franklin.
The Burden of Knowledge: Seven couples, healthcare and genetic specialists, and others explore the ethical and emotional implications of prenatal testing for genetic defects.
Deadly Inheritance: Examines the social and emotional issues involved in genetic testing, as it follows one family during their months-long wait for the results of the mother's test for Huntington's disease.
Banking Our Genes: Invites viewers to think about the ethical, public policy, and privacy issues involved in the collection and banking of DNA data about individuals.
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