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Genetics has never been an easy subject to popularize. If research is advancing considerably today, analyzing and understanding all these issues can sometimes be difficult. It takes fairly advanced scientific knowledge to understand what is happening at the confines of our cells. With There ggenetics at heart (Éditions Dargaud), Philippe Amouyel, doctor, professor of public health at the University of Lille and specialist in Alzheimer’s genetics, and Héloïse Chochois, scientific illustrator, take up the challenge with flying colors by offering an aesthetic, rigorous, but accessible on the subject of genetics.
The story begins with a young woman who visits her father, a geneticist by trade. She half-acknowledges to him that she and her sister carried out one of the famous recreational genetic tests available online. The opportunity for the father to embark his daughter, and the readers along the way, in the history of genetics and its appsappsfrom the most beneficial to the most harmful, through several news.
” Comics were a way to get the message across in a much more affordable way than with a classic book. “says Philipe Amouyel. The doctor, who had already published a book before, had to adapt to the 9e art and put his “chiad” texts into bubbles so that they are adapted to spoken language. It also needed a story, a scenario, to accompany the scientific argument.
Genetics, at the heart of our daily lives
” Some Gafam, like GoogleGoogle not to mention it, push the use of DNA first to know its origins, then they started to do tests to know the susceptibility to certain diseases, out of any medical context “, describes Philipe Amouyel. The French public health code prohibits the use of these genetic tests which have no medical or scientific research purpose. An exception in Europe, since France is the only one with Poland not to authorize companies to make genetic diagnoses. But, in reality, they are accessible to everyone on InternetInternet. ” We put our DNA in a small envelope that goes to the United States and it comes back to us. »
In most cases, if all goes well, the results of these tests can also change lives. There genetics at the heart offers to follow people, you and me, who see their lives collapse after having a genetic test. ” All examples are taken from real life », Specifies Philippe Amouyel.
The dynamic and sporty young manager who learns that he has a predispositionpredisposition genetics in Alzheimer’s, there are loads of them! The best known is surely Chris Hemsworth, a 39-year-old Australian actor, known for playing the character of Thor, who discovered in November 2022 that he had two copies of the embarrassedembarrassed APOE4, which significantly increases his risk of developing the Alzheimer’s diseaseAlzheimer’s disease. This news put his professional career on hold. ” If he hadn’t done this test, he would have continued until he was 60-70 maybe, and the disease would have arrived… or not. commented Philippe Amouyel.
Doing a genetic test can have consequences for yourself, but also for those close to you. ” If you find something, the law bioethicsbioethics imposes, especially for diseases, requires you to inform the family to take preventive measures. » A case also illustrated in There Genetics at the heart.
The underside of recreational genetic testing
The companies that offer these genetic tests do not sequence the entire genome, but DNA fragments which are analyzed using standard DNA chips, also used in research. ” Whether they use a chip that identifies 500 or 200,000 genetic polymorphisms, the price is the same in the endunderlines the doctor. So they pick the ones that give the most information. These companies therefore have data basedata base gigantic on the genetics of people “.
A database of interest to the pharmaceutical sector. The price paid by customers does not finance the carrying out of the test, so in order not to be loss-making, companies such as 23andMe, My Heritage Or LivingDNA, sell their information to pharmaceutical companies. ” If you look carefully in the hundreds of pages written in very small, you can refuse this use of your data. But no one reads them “, he continues.
Despite these excesses, carrying out a genetic test in a medical setting can be justified. when you have a medical response to provide “. The most emblematic case is that of Angélina Jolie, who carried out a genetic test to find out her risks of breast cancerbreast cancer since several women in his family have been affected. It turns out that she carries the BRCA1 gene; carriers have a 60 to 80% risk of developing breast cancer at some point in their lives. To avoid this, she decided to make a mastectomymastectomywhich reduces the risk of breast cancer to 5%.
But, in the event that there is no medical solution to be provided to reduce a genetic predisposition, as for Alzheimer’s, ” it will bring you nothing, if not anxiety each time that, from the age of 45, you have forgotten your glasses or lost your carcar in the Lidl car park. Well, it’s not worth it », Estimates Philippe Amouyel.
Our opinion on “Genetics at the heart”
Genetics at the heart popularizes genetics without detour, in its good as its bad aspects. Well researched, the scientific subject is rigorous without leaving neophytes in science on the side of the road. The characters and situations are believable and promise to fuel discussions with family or friends about what we want to do with our most intimate asset: our genes.
If this subject interests you, if you want to learn more about the challenges of this branch of science that never ceases to surprise us then do not hesitate any longer. This comic book is a fun way to discover the impact and uses of genetics in our daily lives. Genetics at the heart published by Dargaud is available in all bookstores from April 28, 2023, at a price of 22 euros.
Article written in partnership with Éditions Dargaud