See Inside July / August 2011

Strain on the Brain

A stressful life may fuel Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease

Gerald Slota

In 2007 Nobel laureate James Watson eyed his genome for the very first time. Through more than 50 years of scientific and technological advancement, Watson saw the chemical structure he once helped to unravel now pieced into a personal genetic landscape that lay before him.

There was one small stretch of DNA on chromosome 19, however, that he chose to leave under wraps. That region coded for the apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene. Since the early 1990s APOE has been a telling genetic marker of Alzheimer’s risk: certain forms of it correlate strongly with the development of the disease. Watson’s grandmother suffered from Alzheimer’s, but without any reasonable treatments or proved preventive strategies, the discoverer of the double helix decided the information was too volatile, its revelation creating more potential harm than good.

This is only a preview. Get the rest of this article now!

Select an option below:

Customer Sign In

*You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content

It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on
Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access.

Share this Article:


You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.
Scientific American Holiday Sale

Scientific American Mind Digital

Get 6 bi-monthly digital issues
+ 1yr of archive access for just $9.99

Hurry this offer ends soon! >


Email this Article


Next Article