Episodes

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The Alzheimer's Gene2020040920201028 (R4)Alzheimer's is a devastating disease - so would you want to know whether it lies in your future? Some online tests say they can tell you how likely you are to develop it, based on which version you have of a single gene. But can we really believe the stats? Would you want to know your own risk level? And what good, bad - and just plain weird - responses do people have to finding out?

Dr Kat Arney makes up her mind about whether to take the test, with the help of social scientist Dr Richard Milne and genetic counsellor Professor Anna Middleton.

Presenter: Kat Arney
Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton

Find out what you're made of, one gene at a time - with Dr Kat Arney

Find out what you're made of, one gene at a time, with Dr Kat Arney.

The Breast Cancer Gene20200407For centuries doctors have noticed that some types of cancer seem to run in families, but it was only recently that we've started to pin down the genetic culprits. One of these hit the headlines in 2013 when actress Angelina Jolie announced she had a defect in the BRCA1 gene, which can significantly increase the chances of developing breast, ovarian or prostate cancer. Jolie had breast removal surgery in order to reduce her risk of getting ill.

So how does it feel to find out you carry a faulty BRCA gene? What can you do about it? And could new research into these genes help lead to revolutionary new cancer treatments?

Dr Kat Arney speaks to Caitlin Brodnick, author of "Dangerous Boobies: Breaking Up with My Time-Bomb Breasts", and cancer researcher Dr Serena Nik-Zainal of Cambridge University.

Presenter: Kat Arney
Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton

Find out what you're made of, one gene at a time - with Dr Kat Arney

Find out what you're made of, one gene at a time, with Dr Kat Arney.

The Cyclops Gene2020041020201029 (R4)What links cyclops lambs, poisonous flowers, and six-toed cats? They're all involved in the story of a gene called Sonic Hedgehog - yes, that is its real name – which has its genetic fingers in all kinds of developmental processes. Sonic Hedgehog helps to decide how many bits you have, where they go, and whether you’re symmetrical, so it’s not surprising that when Sonic makes mistakes there can be serious consequences. We take a look at the mind-bogglingly intricate process of creating a body, and the key role our favourite blue hero plays in making sure everything goes to plan.

Dr Kat Arney is joined by hedgehog experts Dr Bob Riddle of the US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Professor Robert Hill of Edinburgh University, and Dr Natalia Riobo-Del Galdo of Leeds University.

Presenter: Kat Arney
Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton

Find out what you're made of, one gene at a time - with Dr Kat Arney

Find out what you're made of, one gene at a time, with Dr Kat Arney.

The Eyeball Gene20210723Is there more than meets the eye when it comes to the similarities between the compound eyeballs of a fly and your own peepers? What's so special about starfish feet? And what can some of nature’s oddest eyes tell us about our connection with life, the universe and everything?

Dr Kat Arney find out with the help of fruitfly-troubler Dr Patrick Callaerts and eyeball-building expert Professor Veronica Van Heyningen.

Presenter: Kat Arney

Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton

Sound Mix: James Beard

Editor: Penny Murphy

Find out what you're made of, one gene at a time - with Dr Kat Arney

Find out what you're made of, one gene at a time, with Dr Kat Arney.

The Fat Gene20210719Many of us have got a bit chunkier over the last difficult year, but can you blame your genes if you no longer fit into your jeans? Or is it all about willpower?

Dr Kat Arney finds out with the help of eating experts Professors Giles Yeo and Theresa Marteau… and some irresistible cookies.

Presenter: Kat Arney

Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton

Sound mix: James Beard

Editor: Penny Murphy

Find out what you're made of, one gene at a time - with Dr Kat Arney.

Find out what you're made of, one gene at a time, with Dr Kat Arney.

The Ginger Gene2020040620201026 (R4)Redheads - famed and feared throughout history. From strawberry blonde to sultry auburn, red hair always stands out in a crowd. But where does the redhead gene come from? Does it really affect the way we feel pain? And are redheads really endangered?

Dr Kat Arney finds out with the help of Jacky Colliss Harvey, author of "Red: A History of the Redhead", ginger gene expert Professor Ian Jackson from the University of Edinburgh, and some spicy mice.

Presenter: Kat Arney
Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton

Find out what you're made of, one gene at a time - with Dr Kat Arney

Find out what you're made of, one gene at a time, with Dr Kat Arney.

The Hiv Gene20210722HIV is an incurable disease - or is it? It turns out that some people are naturally immune to HIV, and their genes can be used in to remove the virus from a patient’s system altogether. But given that HIV is a new disease, how did this resistance evolve? And what does this mean for the millions living with the condition? Kat Arney digs into the buried past of the “HIV gene”, and its life-saving future, with Dr Stephen O’Brien and Dr Ravi Gupta.

Presenter: Kat Arney

Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton

Sound Mix: James Beard

Editor: Penny Murphy

Find out what you're made of, one gene at a time - with Dr Kat Arney.

Find out what you're made of, one gene at a time, with Dr Kat Arney.

The Huntington's Gene20210720A simple glitch in the DNA code turns an unassuming gene into a deadly killer. It passes from parent to child, has been subject to huge stigma, and for many has been a dark family secret. Dr Kat Arney speaks to Alice Wexler, author of “The Woman Who Walked into the Sea: Huntington's and the Making of a Genetic Disease”, whose family uncovered the secrets of the Huntington’s gene, and Dr Sarah Tabrizi, who’s leading the hunt for a cure.

Presenter: Kat Arney

Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton

Sound Mix: James Beard

Editor: Penny Murphy

Find out what you're made of, one gene at a time - with Dr Kat Arney.

Find out what you're made of, one gene at a time, with Dr Kat Arney.

The Milkshake Gene2020040820201027 (R4)Are you dairy intolerant? If so, you’re not alone – more than two-thirds of adults in the world are unable to digest delicious milkshakes and other dairy products properly. 10,000 years ago all humans were like that. So why on earth did some of us evolve the ability to tuck into cheese, butter and cream with a vengeance? And why are farming - and farting - vital parts of the story?

Dr Kat Arney finds out, with the help of evolution expert Professor Mark Thomas of UCL.

Presenter: Kat Arney
Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton

Find out what you're made of, one gene at a time - with Dr Kat Arney

Find out what you're made of, one gene at a time, with Dr Kat Arney.

The Omnibus Edition20200410Take a deep dive into what you’re made of, as Dr Kat Arney tells the unexpected story of four pieces of human DNA: the ginger gene, the breast cancer gene, the milkshake gene, and the cyclops gene.

People have never been so well informed about their DNA, with tens of millions of home genetic testing kits sold. But behind each of your 20,000 genes is a fascinating story - one that’s being added to every day, as genetics remains on the cutting edge of innovation.

Combining history, archive, anthropology, comedy - and of course, lots of lovely science - we finally give these crucial substances the attention they deserve.

Presenter: Kat Arney
Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton

Delve into the weird and wonderful world of your genes - with Dr Kat Arney

Find out what you're made of, one gene at a time, with Dr Kat Arney.

The Warrior Gene20210721Is there really a gene that makes some people more violent than others? And should certain criminals get a lesser sentence because of what’s in their DNA? Dr Kat Arney investigates how the so-called “Warrior Gene” is being used as a defence to some grisly crimes, with the help of psychologist Dr Sally McSwiggan and Dr Jari Tiihonen.

Presenter: Kat Arney

Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton

Sound Mix: James Beard

Editor: Penny Murphy

Find out what you're made of, one gene at a time - with Dr Kat Arney.

Find out what you're made of, one gene at a time, with Dr Kat Arney.