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  #1    
Old January 15th, 2013, 08:41 AM
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Brooke Greenberg's 'Syndrome X' Condition Defies Age, Baffles Doctors (VIDEO)

The Huffington Post | By Sara Gates Posted: 01/14/2013 4:02 pm EST | Updated: 01/14/2013 4:06 pm EST


Brooke Greenberg may appear to be no older than 4 or 5, but the girl, who suffers from a mysterious medical disorder, is actually 20 years old. Her extremely rare condition, dubbed "Syndrome X," has puzzled medical professionals for years. Even some of the world's leading experts have been unable to find a medical precedent for her stunted development. However, one doctor believes that studying Brooke's biology could offer clues to other mysteries of the human body.

Brooke progressed through life like any other young girl, until her parents noticed she stopped developing -- both physically and mentally -- around age 5.

"She has been the same weight, the same height for now 15 years," her father Howard said during a Jan. 10 segment on Katie Couric's daytime talkshow, "Katie." The only things that have continued to grow normally are Brooke's nails and hair, he also revealed.

Brooke's doctor and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine pediatrician Lawrence Pakula spoke with ABC's 20/20 in 2009. "Many of the best-known names in medicine, in their experience... had not seen anyone who matched up to Brooke," Pakula said. "She is always a surprise."

Eric Schadt, director of the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multi-Scale Biology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, says sequencing Brooke's DNA could be the key to learning more about human aging and longevity.

"It's an amazing phenotype. So here's a woman, 20 years old, who has literally stopped aging," Schadt said on "Katie" on Jan. 10. "From a scientific standpoint, cases like Brooke's can blow a whole field of science wide open by elucidating what's going on in her."

Working to pinpoint the aging process at a molecular level, Schadt and his team have inserted Brooke's genes into fruit flies to analyze how her genetic code affects the organism.

According to Schadt, manipulating Brooke's genes may not only increase longevity, but could also help treat age-related disorders, the International Business Times reports.

Schadt's work stems from earlier research involving Brooke's DNA that sought to identify the master genes that control the developmental process, according to Discovery News.

Although she is 20 years old, Brooke acts very much like a toddler and must be constantly looked after by her parents. Though it's been a struggle, Brooke's family says they have tried to make her life as normal as possible.

"It hasn't been easy, but each day you get better at doing your job," Brooke's mother, Melanie, told Couric.
I thought this was pretty wild. Basically, this 20 year old hasn't aged or grown at all since she was 5. Is the key to defeating the reaper in this girl's genes?
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Old January 15th, 2013, 09:53 AM
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That's pretty wild... I've never heard of this one (you think after 10 years it'll be breaking news everywhere already.) I don't know if this is really something that defeats the reaper, as the cells may still be aging yet somehow growth has been stunted. It'll certainly help against *something* if we come to understand what's going on. Maybe it'll aid against cancer if we can get the cancer cells to a period of stunted growth like what's happening to the poor girl here.

In the meantime, it's also encouraging that the parents are hanging on and taking care of their girl to the best of their abilities and treat her as part of the family!
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Old January 15th, 2013, 10:21 AM
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I doubt they key to "defeating the reaper" is there, though Im sure this would be useful for something like anti-aging and longevity. I imagine it being rough for the girl to live that way, appearing as a 5 year old for all that time.
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Old January 15th, 2013, 10:45 AM
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She's a vampire!

But seriously... is she actually aging at all? I mean, it seems like it must be impossible, but if you literally don't age at all, then you would never die of old age... would you? I know you don't die of old age, but rather it makes your body weak enough to be killed in some other way... so if you never get that weak, then hypothetically, you may never die.

Probably not the case here, but it would definitely be cool if it was. It's a shame she wasn't able to get a bit older before this happened though... if she stays 5 years old for her whole life, she'll never be able to take care of herself.
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Old January 15th, 2013, 11:09 AM
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Wow that's new, not being able to age must be horrible, especially at that age.
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Old January 15th, 2013, 11:27 AM
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That sounds like a nightmare. Her parents have got to be thinking about the future. She'll outlive them, so they'll have to put something together beforehand so she has someone to live with. Nothing would be worse than putting her up for adoption.
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Old January 15th, 2013, 11:36 AM
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I feel kinda bad for her. She's going to stay mentally 5 years old for who knows how long. At least she ought to have language skills and mobility though.

I thought aging was when your cells reproduce (as they do) and start having errors in the copies. I thought growth - developing into an adult, puberty and all that - was something else entirely. Something more to do with hormones and so on.
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Old January 15th, 2013, 01:41 PM
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Wow that's rough. How about when her parents are going to die? What is she gonna become? She's gonna have to keep depending on other people so she could live. And she's staying the same age and mentally also, but does this mean she's immortal to father time? O.o

Or she's aging but physically and mentally it doesn't show.
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Old January 15th, 2013, 05:17 PM
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It's not necessarily true she'll outlive her parents. It's more likely she'll die before them, considering the amount of health issues that accompany her condition. Her parents describe her as a happy child, though not-so-typical, one who laughs and recognizes faces, so I have no reason to pity her aside from physical pain she may endure. I have faith that the mystery of her situation, as it unfolds, will lead to an exciting outcome and discovery.
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Old January 15th, 2013, 05:22 PM
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Man that's got to be rough for her parents, but priceless at the same time. They don't have to worry about her growing up, but to take care of a baby for many years has to take a toll on her parent's health.
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Old January 15th, 2013, 07:10 PM
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Old January 15th, 2013, 09:04 PM
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I thought I read a case of a 17 year old baby a few years ago. Hm. Anyway, that's not very good really. The parents never get a break in that case, and I can't imagine how it would be when they pass away. And if she has younger siblings, how do they introduce her? "This is my big sister!" "But she's like...five." "...Yeah, I know." Or even the parents introducing her to people as the oldest child (assuming she is anyway). idk. That's just crazy. I feel bad for her really. Like...does she go to school and stay in the same grade for years and years? I wonder if she understands any of this...I mean kids are kids, but they're not stupid. She has to realize "Why do my friends grow older but not me?" and omg friends...her friends grow up without her. :( That must be rough having to make new friends...

Okay I'm thinking too much and I'm gonna make myself upset over this. :(
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Old January 15th, 2013, 09:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Sydian View Post
I thought I read a case of a 17 year old baby a few years ago. Hm. Anyway, that's not very good really. The parents never get a break in that case, and I can't imagine how it would be when they pass away. And if she has younger siblings, how do they introduce her? "This is my big sister!" "But she's like...five." "...Yeah, I know." Or even the parents introducing her to people as the oldest child (assuming she is anyway). idk. That's just crazy. I feel bad for her really. Like...does she go to school and stay in the same grade for years and years? I wonder if she understands any of this...I mean kids are kids, but they're not stupid. She has to realize "Why do my friends grow older but not me?" and omg friends...her friends grow up without her. :( That must be rough having to make new friends...

Okay I'm thinking too much and I'm gonna make myself upset over this. :(
Being different doesn't have to be a bad thing. I'm sure they've accepted and adjusted to their circumstances by now, and I highly doubt this child questions her being to that extent. Even if she did, it's what she knows. It's who she is- like people who are blind, or orphaned, or with tourettes syndrome, what have you- and if she is to be made "normal" by doctors she will have contributed a ton to science. I think she is very special, and I have no doubt their family is very proud and opimistic. They have to be. Related articles give evidence that the family shows nothing but love for their child/sister and describe her as very happy, as I stated in my previous post. (Excuse my passion. I'm in rillo heaven.)
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Old January 16th, 2013, 09:35 PM
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Being different doesn't have to be a bad thing. I'm sure they've accepted and adjusted to their circumstances by now, and I highly doubt this child questions her being to that extent. Even if she did, it's what she knows. It's who she is- like people who are blind, or orphaned, or with tourettes syndrome, what have you- and if she is to be made "normal" by doctors she will have contributed a ton to science. I think she is very special, and I have no doubt their family is very proud and opimistic. They have to be. Related articles give evidence that the family shows nothing but love for their child/sister and describe her as very happy, as I stated in my previous post. (Excuse my passion. I'm in rillo heaven.)
I know that, I was just trying to think of how I'd feel if I got stuck at that age, haha. It is a unique case though, really. In a way, I think it'd be nice to just stay five. I often find myself wondering why adulthood tends to be so needlessly complicated, so I guess she's lucky in that sense. Dunno if she feels that way, but still, it seems like it'd be...stress free, you know?

Great, now I feel like I'm floating on a cloud, haha. Once I put away the thought of needing to drive, being able to drink, all those things that come along with aging, you know, not being able to do any of those things was never that bad for me. Took me a long time to even get my license, because I had no interest. I don't have a big interest in alcohol, no interest in cigarettes or tobacco products. It's like...idk. They don't seem as important when compared to the more stress free life a child lives.

Still on my cloud for now, lol.
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Old January 17th, 2013, 10:01 AM
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If you got stuck at that age, you probably wouldn't be thinking about how you feel, but thinking about how to get at the cookie jar.

With that said, somehow I doubt the fountain of youth will ever be a good thing, really. If you got stuck at say age 30 for who knows how long, and kept seeing all the stuff happen around you (friends dying, pets dying, thefts, crime, etc), how long will it take before you finally crack under the constant mental bombardment? How long would you spend in a mental institution? You'd need a helluvalot of exposure to the good stuff in life in order to keep going. Or alcohol. Take your pick.

If something like that was discovered and made available in my lifetime, I'd bolt far away and live as a hermit.
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Old January 19th, 2013, 08:08 AM
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The thing is that she still acts 5 years old. So it's hard to determine if she knows any different. I'm sure there are many many people including myself who would love to stop the ageing process, at a specific age of course. I'm hoping we get a breakthrough in the molecular cause of ageing and can easily manipulate the brain to stop as we so choose.
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Old January 20th, 2013, 12:41 PM
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I'm hoping we get a breakthrough in the molecular cause of ageing and can easily manipulate the brain to stop as we so choose.
That's never going to be made available on a large scale, though. At least not if any scientists who develop it have any sense. The population would increase exponentially, we'd completely destroy the planet.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Plumpyfoof View Post
The thing is that she still acts 5 years old. So it's hard to determine if she knows any different.
That's just it, she's biologically five years old in every sense of the word. Mentally & physically. It's mind boggling when you think about it.
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Old February 8th, 2013, 10:35 AM
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Does she know she's actually 20 years old? I mean if she really has the mind of a five year old she's not really going to care about anything other than five year old things, like when she can get a new toy or when she can see one of her friends again. Its not like a kindergartner is thinking about his/her future at that young of an age, so why would she be? At least with my five year old sister, I know this is the case.
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Old February 8th, 2013, 04:41 PM
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Man that'd be a pedos's dream girlfriend cause it'd be legal.

Seriously though I read this quite long ago, somewhere else, it wouldnt be so bad if she stopped at 15-20 or something but damn.
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Old February 12th, 2013, 07:51 PM
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In that way she is like Ralph Macchio. But Ralph stopped aging at 25. I'm a guy and even I think he's hot.
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Old February 18th, 2013, 11:27 PM
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I don't think we know enough about aging and physiology to come to any sort of conclusion about her longetivity. Maybe her body's not reaching the biochemical milestones normally seen in other human beings, but she's still suffering from damage occurring with each cell division and other damage that just come with time. Or maybe she's not :O

I think Macchio is still aging, he just has really great skin tension and facial muscles
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Old February 18th, 2013, 11:53 PM
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I wish they'd stop aging at around 21 years, not 21 months. Oh well, such is life.
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Old February 27th, 2013, 12:08 PM
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Symdrome X condition? Man, I wish they just called it the 'cartoon age' condition! I kinda feel bad for her that she's gonna be stuck physically and mentally at age 5. I am almost certain this isn't gonna mean she's immortal. Oxidation is sometimes linked as a factor to the ageing process: it's what makes rust, and what makes an apple's flesh turn browny when left out in the open for too long. Even if she's stopped to produce the necessary hormones to develop her body physically and mentally to that of a fully-grown woman, oxidative stress will probably get to her like everyone else.
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Old February 27th, 2013, 12:13 PM
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I remember hearing this a few years ago, when she was about 15, I think.

It's not as rough on her as we think, either. She's still only cognitively about five years old, I know kids aren't dumb but she isn't exactly putting as much thought into this as we all are.

outfox nailed it too, I'd imagine her condition jeopardizes her overall health rather significantly.
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