'Grey's Anatomy' Alzheimer's Test: Isn't Meredith Too Young?

Patrick Dempsey Ellen PompeoGrey's Anatomy may be a show about hot young things (and if you happened to catch Thursday night's episode, hot young things with smoking hot abs courtesy of Jesse Williams), but the cast's own health issues are aging them these days.


In an episode dubbed "Can't Fight Biology" that kicked off with a visit to the OB/GYN to discuss Meredith Grey's childbearing capabilities -- talk about growing up -- the subject of how today's actions affect tomorrow's future weighed heavily.

And it came to roost in the form of an Alzheimer's test.

On a young woman.


Yup, after encountering a patient who had gone through genetic testing for Huntington's disease, Meredith Grey is finally facing her genes and what mom Ellis Grey's early onset Alzheimer's could mean for her future. She might only be in her early 30s, but there's a reason next week's episode has been named "Almost Grown"; she's finally getting to the point where she's looking at a life plan.

So what can she find out?

Possibly nothing. The genetic tests for Alzheimer's are still not definitive. The four genes they currently test for only lead to a small number of the cases of Alzheimer's. Scientists are working to identify other genetic markers, but they're still mystified. 

In the case of someone like Meredith Grey -- whose parent had an early onset case, developing Alzheimer's as young as 40 -- the genetic tests can help them get their affairs in order.

Thirty isn't so young when you could start losing your faculties at 40.

The Alzheimer's Association estimates these cases only account for 1 percent of all Alzheimer's cases, but a positive test is almost a guarantee of your fate. Similarly, there is one test for cases where your parent had a late onset case that can help you determine your future -- having two copies of the gene almost guarantees you're going to descend into Alzheimer's.

Now the drawback: even on a hospital show where miracles happen every Thursday night, there's nothing they can do if Meredith Grey has the gene. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer's, although there are treatment options to slow the disease.

It gives you the chance at 30 or so to start getting your affairs in order -- dealing with legal and financial implications -- but now you've got your fate weighing on your mind.

Would you do it?

Image via ABC

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