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"It's called the Presenelin 1 gene," answered the counselor, "and is found on chromosome 14. It's inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern, and is fully penetrant."

"'Penetrant'?" asked Adam. "What exactly does that mean?"

"It means," said Peter, slowly, "that Charlotte has inherited the gene that is responsible for Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease."

Adam felt the room spin around him. With a shaking hand, he brushed away the sweat on his forehead.

"Just because she has the gene," he asked, "does that mean she has to get the disease?"

Peter was gravely silent.

"I'm sorry," he answered.

"Isn't there anything we can do about it?" asked Adam, frantically.

"There is no known cure for AD," said Peter.

"But," reasoned Adam, "she's young and healthy!"

"In cases such as these, where the inherited gene has been confirmed-- those people could lead completely healthy lives, and they would still develop AD symptoms," Peter carefully explained. "Her case is really quite rare, actually. There's only been ten dozen or so families that have been confirmed to carry the PS-1 mutation. When Charlotte came here, she had a fifty percent chance of having inherited the gene. If she ever has children, they will also have a fifty percent chance of having inherited the mutated gene."

"How long does she have?" asked Adam, fighting with every nerve in his body not to break down.

"She doesn't have the disease, yet," said Peter. "There is a difference. Normally, PS-1 has an average age of onset at about thirty-two to fifty-six. Her grandfather was diagnosed at fifty-two, while Charlton was diagnosed at forty-two. I'd guess that she would start exhibiting signs of Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease (EOAD), in approximately the same range."

Adam was speechless. His darling was to share in the same fate as Chuck, Arnold, and even her great-grandfather.

"Chuck used to do puzzles," stammered Adam. "He said his doctor said it might help slow the progress of the disease."

"Yes," said Peter, "it might help. However, you understand, that Charlotte doesn't need any external triggers to have EOAD. Her genes are enough."

"Yes," stammered Adam, "but it could help? Mental stimulation could help?"

"It's possible that it might help stave off the disease for an unspecified amount of time," conceded Peter. "But, when it's going to happen, it's going to happen. I can't imagine living with the threat of such a disease over my head," said Peter, "but Charlotte chose to be tested. This foreknowledge isn't for everyone. But, it was her choice."

"I understand," said Adam, trying to think clearly.

"Do you have any other questions?" asked Peter.

"I can't think of any," said Adam. "It still hasn't sunk in, yet."

"Of course, I understand," said Peter, sympathetically. "Here's my card. You can contact me anytime you wish, day or night. On behalf of the research building, I want to extend our sympathy to you and your family."

Adam accepted his hand and stood up to leave.

"I'd appreciate it," said Adam, "if this discussion could be kept secret. The media would have a field day with this news."

"Of course," said Peter. "As I said before, Jerome's consent was the only reason why I spoke with you, in the first place. You can rely on us for complete privacy."
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