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To Catch A Killer Gene: Sisters Race To Stop Mystery Disease

Publication Date: 
February 07, 2014
NBC News
Tony Dokoupil

Professor Hank Greely comments on the advance of technology allowing for possible genetic manipulation of children in the near future for NBC News.

Days before she ended her pregnancy, Joselin Linder was thrilled to imagine herself as a parent. She was 37, newly-married, and though her baby-to-be wasn’t planned, it was soon deeply desired. “Maybe it’s that I played with dolls until I was so old I had to play with them in my closet,” she says. "But it seemed inevitable that I would one day be a mother.”


Linder is not a mother today, more than a year later, because she had an abortion at 10 weeks. She still wanted the child—wanted to call it George, perhaps—but she feared she would pass along the disease that killed her father in mid-life, practically fusing his organs and ballooning his body. She and her sister Hilary inherited the same unnamed illness, but as with most of the thousands of inheritable diseases known to science, there is no cure—except for stopping the affected bloodline.




“We’re learning things about our biology that are going to give us the power to make intentional and serious changes to our species,” said Hank Greely, director of the Center of Law and the Biosciences at Stanford University.