Genetic Analysis: Guest Blogger Bethany Macmanus

Today, I’m pleased to host author and friend, Bethany Macmanus. She’s guest blogging on what diseases can be discovered through genetic analysis.

Bethany has graciously agreed to award one e-book copy of Nerve to a commenter of this posts. Comments close on Wednesday, March 25th. 

Welcome, Bethany!
I’ve always found the ancient “nature vs. nurture” debate interesting, to the point of writing a paper on it for my Child Growth and Development class in college. What determines a person’s physical traits, IQ, personality, or even their ability to process things like gluten and phenylalanine? Is it mostly their environment, or is it mostly their genes?

I’ve heard of individuals who live the most healthy life they think possible, by exercising regularly, eating what they’ve been told is most nutritious and balanced, and seeing their physician for recommended appointments. When they wake up one day and find out they have advanced cancer, they wonder what in the world happened. Their environment, though it couldn’t be controlled completely, had been “nurtured” as much as possible. What, then, did their genes contribute to the equation?

The answer is, probably a lot.

Geneticists are discovering more and more factors which are predetermined by what is written on our DNA. Here is only a partial list, which I’ve taken from

·         Episodic memory (KIBRA gene)
·         Pain sensitivity (SCN9A gene)
·         Norovirus resistance (FUT2 gene)
·         Bitter taste perception (TAS2R32 gene)

You may have heard of the double mastectomy actress Angelina Jolie underwent in 2013 to prevent breast cancer. Genetic analysis showed she had a specific BRCA1 gene mutation, which is reported to make her 87% likely to test positive for the disease. The BRCA1 and 2 genes are responsible for tumor suppression.

I wondered what other disease processes can be tested through genetic analysis. Gene Planet has a long list: Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, atrial fibrillation, breast cancer, celiac disease, colorectal cancer, gallstones, glaucoma, heart attack, hypertension, lung cancer, MS, prostate cancer, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes (type 1 and type 2), restless leg syndrome, and venous thromboembolism (a blood clot in an extremity).

The list included a lot of the diseases with high mortality rates, which made me have another thought. If I had one or all of these (very expensive) analyses done, I sure wouldn’t want this genetic information falling into the wrong hands!

And so I asked one of the story questions in my novel, Nerve: What if a sample of my DNA was stolen from me and analyzed without my knowledge or consent? What might the thief do with their new power over me? Find out when you read!
Bethany Macmanus lives in Houston with her husband, daughter, and son. After practicing as an RN for five years, Bethany left the nursing field to pursue a writing passion the Lord planted in her heart when she was a child. Nancy Drew mysteries were her guilty pleasure during those early years, so she naturally gravitates her pen toward the things that go bump in the night, and most of her plots have a psychological spin. She’s allergic to cheese, Sulfa drugs, and people who stop in the middle of intersections while driving.

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