The Science behind 'A Vested Interest' - Progeria
Progeria, also known as Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS), is a genetic abnormality in which the gene responsible for destroying damaged or malfunctioning cells LMNA (also called lamin A) fails to work properly and instead attacks all cells, healthy or not.
A child with progeria - there are no adults - starts to show symptoms at around 18 months. They 'fail to thrive' and develop skin with an aged look. Growth is very slow and because of it children with this condition share a small face with pinched nose and reduced jaw. They lose hair and develop the frail skeleton and appearance of the very elderly. They suffer from heart disease and often die of this or a stroke at an average age of 13.
Progeria does not appear to be inherited but instead appears to be caused by random gene mutation. Children do not survive long enough to reproduce.
There are very few cases in the world - only 2 known in the UK. One of these cases was that of Haley Okines who has her own website.
Progeria has received a great deal of attention from science since it was hoped that understanding it would lead to a better understanding of aging.
A film about Werner Syndrome a condition similar to progeria was made by Robin Williams where he played 'Jack'. Wener Syndrome however usually develops in the teens by which time many progeria sufferers have died.