Friday, February 8, 2008

Genetically identical can sometimes mean genetically different

Health issues were a big factor behind our decision to find out whether our boys were identical. If one had allergies, it made sense that his identical twin would have allergies. The same logic applied to genetic diseases, or so we thought.
This recent difference in immunity between the boys, though slight, inspired me to do a little research. What I found was that identical twins are an exciting mystery to the world of genetic disease research: a mystery because it would make sense that shared genes would mean shared genetic diseases. Yet that is not always the case. Sometimes, one identical twin develops a genetically influenced disease when the other does not.
The research is exciting because studies of identical twins can provide the key to cures for such diseases as Rheumatoid arthritis, leukemia and myopia. No laboratory can create specimens as perfect for such research as identical twins.
As for my boys, Matthew is making up for lost calories. He is shoveling food in his mouth faster than I can put it on his tray. The antibiotics have give him the edge on Jonathan, who is recovering from their illness, but not quite as quickly. Jonathan starts throwing food off his tray after the first five minutes.
But even runny noses and hacking coughs cannot slow these two guys down. Yesterday, they learned how to open the laundry chute. They scrape each other with the metal door as they fight over who gets to play with it. So for now, my laundry chute is taped shut and I have to peel the sticky stuff off every time I want to toss a bib into the hamper.


Lexi said...

this is fascinating. i think i am going to start researching this just because it is interesting!

Anonymous said...

Yes, genetics are interesting and twins offer an excellent opportunity for study. It's curious that identical twins are so much the same, yet still fundamentally different.

My brother and I, being twins, are participating in a long-term research project concerning diabetes (all that's required of us is to answer questionnaires every 5-10 years).