A BABY WHO WILL NEVER GET ALZHEIMER’S

That’s the hope of his par­ents, who spent nearly RM170,000 on a new treat­ment to pro­tect him

Men's Health (Malaysia) - - Gym Bro'Bot -

When Jim’s mother died of early-on­set Alzheimer’s at age 61, it was a wake-up call. “The dis­ease has hit ev­ery gen­er­a­tion of my fam­ily,” says Jim, a soft­ware en­gi­neer. (He and his wife re­quested anonymity.) “I thought, ‘If there’s any­thing we can do to pre­vent this from hap­pen­ing to our kids, we should do that.’”

Turns out there is. Jim, 36, learned that he could be tested for gene mu­ta­tions that cause early-on­set Alzheimer’s. Through in-vitro fer­til­i­sa­tion (IVF), he and his wife, Melissa, could then screen their em­bryos and im­plant one that lacked mu­ta­tions.

The de­ci­sion to do these “pre-im­plan­ta­tion ge­netic di­ag­nos­tics” was ag­o­nis­ing. “You re­alise that once you know the in­for­ma­tion, you can’t un­know it,” Melissa says. But they pro­ceeded. Jim tested pos­i­tive for the pre­se­nilin 1 mu­ta­tion.

“It’s pretty in­tense to be told you’ll get Alzheimer’s in 15 years,” he says. “I’ve al­ways planned life as­sum­ing it was go­ing to hap­pen, but there’s some­thing dif­fer­ent about it be­ing de­fin­i­tive.”

Three of the cou­ple’s vi­able em­bryos lacked mu­ta­tions. The first one doc­tors im­planted in Melissa didn’t take, but the sec­ond one did, and the cou­ple now has a healthy 14-mon­thold son.

Ge­netic analysis is avail­able for a suite of dis­eases, says Svet­lana Re­chit­sky,

Ph.D., of Re­pro­duc­tive Ge­netic In­no­va­tions, the com­pany that did Jim and Melissa’s screen­ing.

Jim and Melissa know their son isn’t im­mune to Alzheimer’s, be­cause life­style fac­tors are in­volved; but they feel for­tu­nate that they’ve been pro­vided with the op­por­tu­nity to re­duce the odds in their fam­ily tree.

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