The world’s worst disease
June 5, 2008 2:29 PM Subscribe
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul (35 comments total)
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While many ailments are considered terrifying, Lesch-Nyhan
is the stuff of nightmares. An extremely rare genetic neurological disorder with no cure, it often compels its victims to self-mutilate, even when they understand that doing so causes them harm. Richard Preston
used Lesch-Nyhan as a plot device in his best-selling thriller The Cobra Event
, and went on to write a fascinating article about the disease, its sufferers, and its implications for human behavior in the New Yorker. [PDF]
Inspired by this
question in the green and ericb’s follow-up answer. Related
articles on PubMed. Previous
mentions of Lesch-Nyhan on the blue.
I’ve described Lesch-Nyhan as a talking point in classroom debates over the ethical implications of genetic analysis and intervention: it is the quietest and saddest moment I have in a classroom.