Most of us have heard the saying that "genes are not destiny," because environment plays a big role too in making us who we are. But there are a few genetic disorders that are so powerful, they can change our destiny, no matter the other factors.
These are called Mendelian disorders and include diseases like sickle-cell anemia, Tay-Sachs, and cystic fibrosis. A mutation in a single gene can cause these conditions, and once you have the mutation, you're destined to have the disease.
Or so we thought.
It turns out that for a rare few, a superhero-like gene may be hiding among their DNA, protecting them from what we have assumed was certain illness.
- "What does it mean that [Dr. Rong] Chen and colleagues studied a half-million individuals and found that 13 of them appeared to be quite resistant to a set of mutations that, in the textbook, are said to be absolutely disease-causing? Is this the new fountain of youth? The new disease barrier? Who are these superheroes? And what does it tell us about our medicine, as practiced today, and about our biology?"
- "The identification of resilient individuals may provide a first step toward uncovering protective genetic variants that could help elucidate the mechanisms of Mendelian diseases and new therapeutic strategies."