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Meet the gene

As Indians approach genetic labs to decode their DNA in a bid to predict risk of fatal disease, Mirror asks if is this just a case of discovering the obvious?

In 2009, 35 members of Dr Nirmala Vaze’s family underwent a genetic test at the Navi Mumbai-based Advanced Centre for Treatment, Research and Education in Cancer (ACTREC) to find out whether they carried a specific genetic mutation that made them vulnerable to breast, ovarian or prostate cancer. The mutated gene, BRCA 1 (short for BReast CAncer causing gene-1) is the one that led Hollywood actor Angelina Jolie to undergo a double mastectomy in February, bringing down her chances of developing breast cancer from 87 per cent to five per cent. Two men in Vaze’s extended family discovered that they possessed the gene, but they are unwilling — for now — to probe its ramifications. Vaze sincerely hopes they do.


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