8-year-old Gabby Williams from Billings, Montana, virtually doesn’t age. She suffers from a rare condition which prevents her from getting older. Although she is 8 years old, she has a face and skin of an infant.
Richard F. Walker, a medical researcher who has been studying Gabby’s case explained that she and other people with a similar condition have a type of genetic switch-off which virtually stops the aging process. They do age but the rate of aging is so slow that it is negligible which also confirmed Gabby’s mother Mary Margaret Williams.
She told the ABC News that her daughter hasn’t changed much since the 2012 television show which told the Gabby’s story. Mary Margaret said her daughter gained one pound and now weighs 11 pounds. Gabby also got a little bit longer and is now wearing clothing for 3-6-month-olds instead of clothing with a label 0-3 months. Besides having the body of an infant, Gabby also requires the care of an infant. She needs to be fed and diapered, and is unable to walk and speak. Most people with this extremely rare condition also suffer from a number of other health issues including deafness, inability to walk and even eat.
Walker explained that Gabby and other people with a similar condition he had studied lack what he called developmental inertia which is crucial for human growth and development. While our bodies continue to change after maturation at about the age of 20, Gabby and others who are like her have a switch-off in their bodies which stops the maturation process and prevents them from aging. Walker told the ABC News that he found that developmental inertia is caused by damage to a gene which as he claims, is a huge discovery. He explained that if we would be able to identify this gene and the switch-off, we might be able to stop body change when reaching young adulthood and virtually achieve biological immortality.
Gabby’s parents initially had second thoughts about allowing Gabby to take part of the research which they thought to be a quest for eternal youth. But when they worked further with Richard Walker, they realized that his research isn’t just about unlocking the secret of eternal youth but also has huge potentials in treatment of age-related health problems and conditions including Alzheimer’s disease. Gabby’s parents immediately agreed to allow Walker to continue to study their daughter, explaining that they won’t stand in the way if she may hold the key to a cure to as devastating diseases as Alzheimer’s.
As much as Gabby is concerned, doctors don’t know how her life will look like nor how long she will live. Mary Margaret said she thought her daughter won’t be around for long when she was born but there she is, approaching her 9th birthday. Gabby’s mom also said she no longer worries about her daughter, adding that she believes in God and that he has a plan for her.
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