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Science
CASE NOTES
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PROGRAMME INFO
Tuesday 21:00-21:30
Repeat Wednesday 16:30
Dr Mark Porter gives listeners the low-down on what the medical profession does and doesn't know. Each week an expert in the studio tackles a particular topic and there are reports from around the UK on the health of the nation - and the NHS.
case.notes@bbc.co.uk
LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 27 April
PRESENTER
DR MARK PORTER
Dr Mark Porter
PROGRAMME DETAILS
Tuesday 27 April 2004
Genetic

Genetic Screening

Full programme transcript >>

Our genetic code – the inherited “software” needed to turn a single sperm and a female egg into a living human – consists of a basic menu of 30,000 genes, and is enough to fill 200 average-sized novels. All our genes come from our parents, half from Mum, half from Dad, and tiny variations can make a huge difference.  Chimpanzees share 98.5% or our genetic codes. Only 1.5% dictates the difference between us and them.

Possible implications of gene therapy
But just how much of our development and day-to-day lives are determined by this hidden “software”? And how can we manipulate this pre-programming to help us fight disease – and should we? Is gene therapy proving as promising as we thought? And what about the dangers? Are we playing with fire and about to get burnt?

Detecting disease
Gene testing is now widely available to help detect inherited conditions like cystic fibrosis in would-be parents unwittingly carrying the disease. How useful are the screening tests offered by private clinics that can claim to assess everything from your risk of developing osteoporosis to the odds of dying prematurely of a stroke or heart attack. And if these tests become widespread, could the resulting information create a genetic underclass?

Tune in
GP Dr Mark Porter takes a look at what’s available to us and how we should use this information. That’s Case Notes on Genetic Screening on Tuesday 27th April 2004 at 9pm and Wednesday 28th April 2004 at 4.30pm.

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