Girl that Never Ages: Could She Hold the Key to 'Biological Immortality' (Video)
Scientists are looking into a disorder that prevents aging and may possibly hold the key to eternal youth. Yet the health issue is so rare that no medical term has been used to diagnose the condition.
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Meet Gabby Williams, who carries both the facial features and skin of a newborn, weighing only 11 pounds, but is 8 years old. Yet, even at this age, her mother still feeds and cradles her as if she were a newborn. She also still wears diapers.
Doctors who have been studying this medical rarity have found a handful of cases around the globe similar to Gabby's, but are still plagued by what genetic marker stops the aging process from turning on.
TLC television will be airing similar stories on Monday, Aug. 19, regarding the rare disorder at 10 p.m. ET, which is a follow up to Gabby's story, titled "40-Year-Old Child: A New Case" that aired last year.
"In some people, something happens to them and the development process is retarded," said medical researcher Richard F. Walker, via ABC News. "The rate of change in the body slows and is negligible."
Walker, who conducts research at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, discusses what clues these individuals might possess and how it could possibly prevent them from aging.
"My whole career has been focused on the aging process," he said, via the news organization. "My fixation has been not on the consequences but the cause of it."
Walker works to study the growth rate, speed and variety of medical problems these patients live with, including deafness, inability to walk and eat or speak.
Gabby's parents noticed problems in their child as she wasn't growing or changing over several months.
"Gabrielle hasn't changed since pretty much forever," said her mother, Mary Margret Williams,according to the New York Daily News. "She has gotten a little longer and we have jumped into putting her in size 3-6 month clothes instead of 0-3 months for the footies.
Walker believes that damage regulation of the second X chromosome may be able to correct some of the mutations commonly seen in these patients.
And though there is currently no medical name for this rare phenomenon, the opposite of the problem may stem from a rare genetic disorder known as progeria, which causes premature aging in children. This disorder is known to affect 1 in 4 to 8 million, according to the Progeria Research Foundation.
Want to see Gabby? Check out this video, courtesy of TLC.