Deadly Legacy

Milton and Leonore Wexler had divorced in 1964, but Leonore still talked to Milton about her problems because she considered him a friend. She had told him about the police officer who accused her of being drunk because she staggered when she crossed a street. She had told him when a doctor finally found out what her real problem was. Huntington's disease was named after George Huntington, the doctor who first described it in 1872, Milton Wexler explained to his daughters. It affects about...

Chronology

1935 Stanley Norman Cohen born in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, on Herbert Wayne Boyer born in Derry, Pennsylvania, on July 10 Cohen earns M.D. degree from University of Pennsylvania Boyer earns Ph.D. from University of Pittsburgh Scientists discover that bacteria contain small, ring-shaped pieces of DNA called plasmids in addition to their main genome Boyer joins faculty of University of California, San Francisco Cohen joins faculty of Stanford University Cohen devises way to make bacteria take up...

The Real Fountain of Youth

Cynthia Kenyon says that her most important discovery is that aging is not completely unavoidable. Instead, we begin to think of aging as a disease that can be cured, or at least postponed, she and another Elixir cofounder, Leonard Guarente, wrote in an article quoted by Smithsonian writer Stephen Hall. Lifespan, Kenyon says, is determined by the result of competition between Social Impact The Dangers of Extending Life Few people would object to a treatment that prevents heart attacks or...

From Sheep to People

The goal of Ian Wilmut's experiments had been to find a way to clone genetically altered farm animals, and he eventually succeeded. In July 1997, the Roslin team announced the birth of another lamb, Polly, that was both a clone (from the cell of a fetus) and genetically engineered. The cell that gave rise to Polly had been given a human gene that made her milk contain clotting factor 9, one of several proteins that people with the inherited blood disease hemophilia must take. Wilmut and other...

The Opposite of Oncogenes

As if oncogenes were not enough, scientists in the early 1980s discovered a second type of gene that can play a role in starting cancer. These genes are the exact opposite of oncogenes Instead of producing cell growth, their normal job is preventing it. They cause cancer not when they become overactive, as happens with oncogenes, but when they fail to function. Cancer researchers call these genes tumor suppressor genes. Robert Weinberg has often said that active oncogenes are like a stuck...