EDUCATION: When Genes Go Bad

Science  12 Nov 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5699, pp. 1109
DOI: 10.1126/science.306.5699.1109b

This primer on genetic diseases from the U.S. National Library of Medicine can serve as a reference for students and help teachers catch up on the latest findings. The goal of the Genetics Home Reference is to bridge a gap between researchers and genomics newbies, says project director Alexa McCray: “We were well aware of the wonderful things that have happened as a result of the human genome project, but there was no system that translated that information so that members of the public could understand it.”

The handbook section explains topics such as inheritance, different kinds of mutations, genetic testing, and gene therapy. (Above, a virus toting modified DNA slips into a cell.) Users can learn about the genes responsible for illnesses and read up on some 100 conditions, from Alzheimer's disease (certain forms stem from mutations) to X-linked sideroblastic anemia, in which patients make too little hemoglobin. You can browse the descriptions by gene, condition, or chromosome. For readers who want to delve deeper, links lead to technical resources such as PubMed abstracts and gene reviews written for clinicians.

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