Girl who never ages could hold key to ‘biological immortality,’ researcher says
TLC’s '40-Year-Old Child: A New Case’ special will look into what Gabby Williams, the 8-year-old with the body of an infant, and others with mysterious conditions that drastically slow their aging process have in common.
Eight-year-old Gabby Williams weighs only 11 pounds.
The tiny girl from Billings, Mont., still looks like an infant and needs to be cared for as if she is a newborn, with her mother and father changing her diapers and feeding her multiple times a day.
Her mother, Mary Margret Williams, told ABCNews.com that Gabby hasn’t changed much over the years. In fact, her skin still feels like a baby’s and her hair is still fine-textured.
“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,” she said.
Gabby is one of only a few people with a baffling condition that seems to prevent them from aging. It’s so rare that scientists have yet to coin an official name for it.
TLC shared Gabby’s story back in 2011 in a special called “My 40-Year-Old Child.” The hour-long documentary also profiled 40-year-old Nicky Freeman, an Australian man with the appearance of a 10-year-old.
Scientists have since discovered two more people with similar cases of the mysterious syndrome: a 29-year-old Florida man with the appearance of a 10-year-old, and a 31-year-old Brazilian woman who still looks like a toddler. Their stories, along with Gabby’s, are part of a follow-up TLC special that airs on Monday at 10 p.m. ET.
The show chronicles medical researcher Richard Walker’s search for clues as to why these individuals don’t age and what they have in common.
Perhaps these amazing people even hold the secret to eternal youth.
Walker explained that “developmental inertia,” or physiological change, is vital for human growth.
“Without that process we never develop,” he told ABCNews.com. “When we develop, all the pieces of our body come together and change and are coordinated. Otherwise, there would be chaos.”
However, the body continues to change once it reaches maturity, and there is no way to stop the process.
Walker said he believes he found one of the genes responsible for developmental inertia. He also said the mutations are on the regulatory genes on the second female X chromosome.
**disclaimer: I have no problem with research for diseases like alzheimer’s but I wonder what the true motives are here…I sincerely hope and cynically suspect that many involved are interested in finding some “fountain of youth.”