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The 16 year old 11 Month Old

It is an obvious and tragic aspect of life that people are often injured or suffer genetic abnormalities and modern medicine can do nothing about it.

Many times, however, the injury or disease offers a unique opportunity to gather information that otherwise would not have been possible. For example; stroke victims have been and continue to greatly enrich our knowledge of neuroscience.  Strokes typically disrupt the supply of blood to a part of the brain which then disables that specific part. The disability that then manifests itself offers a unique window into the function of that part of the brain that no experiment could match without risking jail time for the researchers.

The same is true for genetic disorders.

Brooke Greenburg of Baltimore Maryland suffers from a unique disorder. She is 16 years old but appears to be about 11 months old.

Doctors have examined her dna and her condition is unrelated to more common aging diseases like progeria. Her condition isn’t simply that aging has stopped. Various parts of her are aging at different rates. Her mind isn’t far from that of a very young infant but her short bones resemble those of an 10 year old in terms of cell structure.

As you might imagine, she suffers from other unusual problems as well like being unable to swallow. This is because her breathing and digestion are essentially different ages which prevents their careful coordination of effort.

Hopefully we can learn from poor Brooke’s condition to not only potentially help her and others that may be born with this but perhaps to further elucidate the nature of aging itself.

Please read more details about this fascinating case here.

2 comments to The 16 year old 11 Month Old

  • I laughed when I Googled this girl’s name and came upon an ABC News article about her.

    The headline reads… “Doctors Baffled, Intrigued by Girl Who Doesn’t Age

    Of course… the doctors are BAFFLED!!

  • The Blind Watchmaker

    Tragic and fascinating all at once. I wonder if this is related somehow to “Hox genes” which allow cells at one end of the embryo to develop differently than cells at the other end in a coordinated fashion. It sounds as if her body is not developing in a such a coordinated way such that the different body parts cooperate in-sync.

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