ABOUT DUPUYTREN'S CONTRACTURE: This is a hand condition that affects the dexterity of the hands and fingers. Collagen builds up in the palm of the hand. The skin thickens and fingers become less dexterous (the small and ring fingers tend to be impeded the most). This condition tends to be more immobilizing than painful and can result in bands of tough skin like calluses building up on the skin. It has been called "Viking's Disease" because of its association with Scandinavian and Northern European populations. Men are much more likely to develop the condition than women.
HOW GENES WORK: Everyone has a set of chromosomes, each containing two halves, one from each parent, and each containing a complete set of gene, so that each chromosome has two copies of every gene. The "dominant" gene is the one that is expressed, such as for brown eyes. A "recessive" gene produces a particular trait -- for instance, for blue eyes -- only if its effects are not over-ridden by those of a dominant gene. Genes are normally transmitted unchanged from one generation to the next, but sometimes a mutation occurs: the structure of the gene is changed. Genetic engineers study these mutations in hopes that it may one day be possible to correct errors in genetic coding that are responsible for specific diseases or disorders.