A young girl is under the scrutiny of scientists who say she may be
one of the most important finds in the often sought fountain of youth.
The girl has been alive for seventeen years, but still looks and
behaves like a one-year-old child. She weighs 16 lbs and is only 30
inches in height. Most people who see her say Brooke Greenberg is only
a toddler. But Brooke Greenberg is almost old enough to vote.
Scientists say the child is suffering from a rare genetic mutation.
And if scientists map her genome as they are hoping to do, they may
find out why.
When many scientists look at Brooke
Greenburg, they see an opportunity to discover why we age. When her
mother sees her, she sees the girl who will never grow up – literally.
Researchers at the University of South Florida School of Medicine, led
by Richard Walker, have suggested that the girl’s rare condition is an
opportunity for the team to study something that they have been
attempting to uncover for years: why we age. There are several
theories, but the actual mechanics behind the aging process are often
unclear or misleading. “If we can compare her genome,” Walker says,
“to the normal version then we might be able to find those genes and
see exactly what the do and how to control them.”
is a matter that all humans have to come to terms with at some point in
their lives. We are born, we reach a peak age, and then we begin
gradually to deteriorate before we die. But what about a world where
we didn’t age? That’s the question several scientists are proposing.
If genes could be studied accurately, then not only could the aging
process potentially be halted, there are some who suggest it could even
be (in some ways) reversed. Of course this field of research is still
new, and there are a thousand different avenues of research that could
help the whole world.
Meanwhile, life for Melanie and
Howard Greenberg goes on in the suburb where they live. It’s a
struggle as they continue to help Brooke through her life as an eternal
toddler, changing her, rocking her to sleep, and attempting to teach
her to speak. Brooke crawls, smiles, and giggles when tickled, but has
not yet mastered the art of speech. In addition, she has suffered
several potentially deadly illnesses and conditions. But the girl who
may hold the future in her genes is not without hope. As research into
her condition continues she may not only help others, but herself as
well. Scientists have already discovered that parts of her body are
aging, just at different speeds. Those researching her case have
suggested that it’s likely that her genes have been damaged in such a
way that it makes it difficult for her body to coordinate the rate at
which her body develops. Scientists suggest if they could only figure
out which gene, they could switch it on and off at will. And maybe
switching it on in Brooke would help her develop into an adult. Would
it be possible to then stop aging for the rest of us?