Children with Disease of Never Aging May Offer Clues to Immortality


For the most part, news about longevity centers on caloric restriction, rapamycin, mTOR, resveratrol, sirtuins, and reactive oxygen species.

Despite the plethora of news and scientific research on these entities, their effects on human lifespan are likely to be mild at best.

We remain very far from interventions that can eliminate the aging process.

A story has recently entered the news about a rare disorder in which children don’t appear to age.  The punchline of this story is perhaps this disease holds the clue to immortality (or close to it)

An eight year old girl in Montana named Debbie is said to have not aged since birth.  She weighs about 12 pounds and has only recently moved into the 3-6 months clothes size.  Her condition is so rare it isn’t yet named.

There are a handful of other people like her in the world including a 29 year old Florida man who appears to be 10 years old.

Researchers don’t know what genetic flaw or mutation is severely slowing the aging process in these individuals, but unfortunately it also makes them deaf and mute.

The scientist studying them believes it might be possible to find the genetic switch that is stopping aging and to one day turn it on (or off) in normal adults.

It certainly makes the most sense that aging is evolutionarily and thus genetically determined.  A  TLC television special, “40-Year-Old Child: A New Case,” which airs Monday, Aug. 19, at 10 p.m. ET explores the study of these children further.

Source (ABC News)

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8 Responses to “Children with Disease of Never Aging May Offer Clues to Immortality”

  1. Nils H. says:

    “It certainly makes the most sense that aging is evolutionarily and thus genetically determined.”

    I’m puzzled why you would say this … Isn’t the OPPOSITE the current mainstream view? Aging and the oingoing accumulation of damages seem to be a rather complex issue .. But then again, I’m not a scientist.

    Thanks for the interesting article

    • Steven says:

      I would agree that accumulation of damages is the current mainstream view of aging. But the rate at which those damages accumulate and the extent to which each organism can deal with them is probably genetically determined.

  2. Brian S says:

    I’d place money on this being a hypothalamic developmental issue.

    Damage accumulation in peripheral tissues undoubtedly contributes to progressive disability, but we shouldn’t forget about the intrinsic growth/development side of aging. Many of the longevity-altering genes that have been discovered seem to fall in this category, and these biological processes are largely regulated by the activities of the hypothalamus.

    Just by two cents, but I wouldn’t be surprised. If I were studying this, I’d be looking at the development of the hypothalamus in these individuals.

  3. Linda Olsen says:

    I wouldn’t take eternal youth if it made me deaf and mute. Hopefully these poor people will help scientists develop something … this whole topic is just haunting.

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