No Fingerprints Due To Genetic Changes

August 25, 2011

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. fingerprint (n.) [fing-ger-print] - unique curved lines at the end of the finger that can be used to identify somebody
Example: Two policemen got fingerprints that may help identify the store robbers.

2. fetus (n.) [fee-tuhs] – unborn young or offspring
Example: According to studies, a fetus inside the mother’s womb can already hear sounds.

3. gene (n.) [jeen] – basic unit in human biology that transfers characteristics or traits from one generation to the next, e.g., parents to children)
Example: Many experts say that a person’s intellect is passed on by his or her parents through the genes.

4. mutation (n.) [myoo-tey-shuhn] – the act or process of being changed or altered
Example: The pupa exposed to chemicals had physical mutations.  

5. immigration (n.) [im-i-grey-shuhn] – the act of transferring to a new country in order to stay there permanently
Example: My Japanese friend is completing the documents necessary for her immigration to the United States.  

Read the text below.

Fingerprint patterns are used to identify a person’s identity. In fact, as early as 24 weeks inside a mother’s womb, a fetus has already developed unique fingerprints. Generally, no two people have the same fingerprints.

However, some people do not develop dermatoglyphs or fingerprint patterns. This condition is called adermatoglyphia .

Researchers from Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center in Israel have recently discovered why this phenomenon occurs. Headed by Dr. Eli Sprecher, the team made a test on a Swiss family affected by adermatoglyphia. The study involved comparing the genes of the nine family members without fingerprints to the seven family members with prints.

Results revealed that a gene mutation may be the cause of missing fingerprints. It was found that people who have adermatoglyphia have shorter versions of the gene called SMARDCAD1. This gene regulates other genes related to body development.

Not having fingerprints may have negative effects. People with adermatoglyphia may find it difficult to travel to other countries that require fingerprint recording. Because of this, adermatoglyphia is sometimes called “immigration delay disease.”

People with adermatoglyphia also suffer from skin blistering, facial tumors and lack of sweat glands in the palm. Researchers are still investigating the reasons for these additional disorders.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         What would you do if you didn't have fingerprints?
·         What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of not having fingerprints?

Discussion B

·         What types of genetic disorders are common in your country?
·         What types of illnesses run through your family?

August 25, 2011