Sergey Brin starts blog, tells of Parkinson's risk

Genetic tests show that the Google co-founder has a rare genetic mutation that increases his chances of getting Parkinson's. Despite the bad news, he's optimistic.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin launched his personal blog on Thursday with some sobering news: he carries a particular genetic mutation that means he's much more likely than average to get Parkinson's disease.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin
Google co-founder Sergey Brin Stephen Shankland/CNET News

The inaugural post on Brin's blog, too.blogspot.com, is titled "LRRK2" after the gene that he found carries a mutation called G2019S, which, "while rare even among people with the disease, accounts, in some ethnic groups, for a substantial proportion of familial Parkinson's," Brin said in the blog post.

"It is clear that I have a markedly higher chance of developing Parkinson's in my lifetime than the average person. In fact, it is somewhere between 20 percent to 80 percent, depending on the study and how you measure," Brin said.

Brin's mother and her aunt both have Parkinson's, and recent research has uncovered a genetic link in some cases of the disease, Brin wrote. And through the services of start-up 23andMe, co-founded by his wife, Anne Wojcicki, and Linda Avey, he found that he carries the same mutation. The research is still early, though, he said. And he had an optimistic take on the news.

"I feel fortunate to be in this position. Until the fountain of youth is discovered, all of us will have some conditions in our old age, only we don't know what they will be. I have a better guess than almost anyone else for what ills may be mine--and I have decades to prepare for it," Brin said. And, he added, "research into LRRK2 looks intriguing (both for LRRK2 carriers and potentially for others)."

Brin said the knowledge gives him some power.

"I know early in my life something I am substantially predisposed to. I now have the opportunity to adjust my life to reduce those odds (e.g. there is evidence that exercise may be protective against Parkinson's). I also have the opportunity to perform and support research into this disease long before it may affect me," he said. "And, regardless of my own health, it can help my family members, as well as others."

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About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.

 

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