When his father was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2000, Daniel Doctoroff thought it was just a case of horrible bad luck. But when his uncle got the same staggering diagnosis seven years later, Doctoroff realized that he and his family probably had a genetic propensity for the illness.

There are no effective treatments for the disease, formally called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, which killed the two brothers. So Doctoroff has opted not to take a DNA test to see if he inherited a mutation that causes a minority of cases. But he also refused to simply live under a sword of Damocles.

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