Monday January 28, 2013

What if you carried a gene that was responsible for a neurological disease that would mean the slow but certain degeneration of your mind and body? What if you knew that you would pass that gene on to your children? As predictive genetic testing becomes more and more advanced, the question many will be asked is “do you really want to know?”

TVO is proud to present the Ontario premiere of the award-winning documentary Do You Really Want to Know? The film follows three families who have been confronted with the decision of whether or not to be tested for Huntington’s Disease (HD) – a degenerative neurological illness that is akin to having ALS, Schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s all at the same time and is one of the first diseases for which accurate and conclusive testing can be done - before the onset of any symptoms.

Unlike other genetic diseases, HD is not a random configuration of genes from both parents. Instead the Huntington gene is a dominant one that is transmitted directly from parent to child. If you don’t have the gene, you can’t get it and you can’t pass it on. But if you do have the gene, you will develop HD.

The film shows how for some people learning that they do not have the gene causes a tremendous sense of guilt over being spared while other family members are not so fortunate. Meanwhile, others find the prospect of facing a terminal illness to be a transformative experience that motivates and focuses them.

Since there are now over 4,000 disorders with a known genetic basis, an estimated sixty percent of the population will experience a disease with a genetic component making ‘do you really want to know?” a more and more relevant question for all of us.

Do You Really Want To Know? premieres Wednesday, February 6 at 9 p.m.

Genetics    Health & Research    Medicine    Psychology    Science & Nature