Deadly Copies

Researchers locate the gene that causes Huntington's disease

FINDING CERTAIN GENES CAN BE AS DIFFICULT AS LOcating a phone number without an address or a last name. Ten years after researchers figured out that the gene that causes Huntington's disease, an uncommon degenerative brain disorder, was located somewhere on the fourth of 23 pairs of human chromosomes, an international team of scientists has pinpointed the actual hereditary entry responsible for the disease.

What they found was a biochemical equivalent of a debilitating stutter: a defective gene that includes too many copies of one crucial subsection of the DNA molecule. The more extra copies, the more severe the symptoms and...

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