Progeria is one of the most heartbreaking diseases that affects humanity. It has been identified in children in 41 different countries, but very little money has been funded to study the effects of this disease. In total, just $5.5 million in grants have been given towards the research of progeria and finding a cure. Here is some interesting information about this disease so that you can become empowered in the battle against it too.
1. It Is Rare
Only 118 children have been identified as having progeria in the world today. This makes progeria one of the most rare childhood diseases that currently exists or is known. This is one of the reasons why research is slow in this area.
2. It Causes Aging
Children affected by progeria age extremely prematurely, and rapidly. A child in their teens with progeria often looks like someone who has lived 80 or 90 years. The average lifespan for a child diagnosed with progeria is just 14 years.
3. It Doesn’t Affect the Mind
One of the most remarkable aspects of progeria is that it does not affect the mind. Even though there are significant changes in the physical bodies of kids with this disease, the children who are diagnosed with progeria are very courageous, smart, and full of life.
4. It’s Not Hereditary
The reason why progeria is remarkably rare is that it is a spontaneous mutation of a single gene. The gene, called LMNA, creates a protein called progeria in its mutated state. This modified protein seems to destabilize the nuclear membranes of the body cells. This destabilization causes cells die prematurely, giving children the effect of looking older than they really are.
5. There Is Hope
Progeria researchers have recently begun clinical trials on three different drugs that they hope will limit the aging progress in progeria children. Although only 100 kids around the world at any given time are affected by this disease, it is 100% fatal. That is why research is so important. Breakthroughs in the treatment of progeria through gene therapy may affect the research and other disease-related fields as well.
6. It’s Been Around Awhile
Progeria was first described in 1886. Follow-up research was described in 1904. Sometimes it is called Hutchinson Gilford Progeria Syndrome, for HGPS, but the end result is the same. This extremely rare genetic mutation causes the rapid aging of children in one out of 4 million births. Symptoms begin showing up around the first year of age, and then children will begin aging 7 to 10 times faster than they normally would.
7. Heart Disease is a Big Risk
The biggest risk a child with progeria faces is the development of atherosclerosis. The severe hardening of their arteries begin in their early childhood, and as they reached their teen years, it becomes life-threatening.