Scientists say Gabby Williams' condition is the result of a rare genetic mutation
Despite being 8 years old, Gabby Williams from Billings, Montana looks very much like an infant.Her parents and doctors say that she hasn't aged a bit since she was born, and that she weighs merely 11 pounds (about 5 kilograms).
According to The Inquisitr, Gaby's parents have to change her, feed her and cradle her. Besides, the girl still has to wear diapers.
By the looks of it, Gaby Williams' condition is the result of an extremely rare genetic mutation, hence the fact that very few similar cases have thus far been documented by the scientific community.
In fact, medical researcher Richard F. Walker maintains that there is a one-in-a-million chance that a child might be born suffering from this condition.
“In some people, something happens to them and the development process is retarded. The rate of change in the body slows and is negligible,” the medical researcher reportedly told the press.
Richard F. Walker refers to Gaby Williams' condition as “biological immortality.”
He explains that, when compared to people who do not have this genetic mutation, the 8-year-old girl and others like her develop much slower. More precisely, their growth rate is just one-fifth of that of normal people.
Symptoms such as deafness, inability to walk, eat or speak have also been documented in people diagnosed with biological immortality.
Investigations have shown that whatever genetic mutation these people display works by halting a process dubbed development inertia, i.e. a series of physiological changes that causes people to gradually develop into adults.
“Without that process we never develop. When we develop, all the pieces of our body come together and change and are coordinated. Otherwise, there would be chaos,” Richard F. Walker argued.
The medical researchers hope that, once the scientific community manages to pin down the genetic mutation responsible for bringing development inertia to a halt, it might be possible to use this information to make other people biologically immortal once they reach a certain age.
This does not mean that people would get to live forever. However, it could happen that they would remain stuck at a certain biological age for the rest of their lives.
As Richard F. Walker put it, “If we could identify the gene and then at young adulthood we could silence the expression of developmental inertia, find an off-switch, when you do that, there is perfect homeostasis and you are biologically immortal.”
Gaby Williams' peculiar case is to be detailed in a documentary scheduled to air on TLC this coming August 19, at 10 p.m. ET.
The documentary, titled “40-Year-Old Child: A New Case,” will also tell the story of a 31-year-old woman from Brazil who looks like a 2-year-old, and that of a 29-year-old man in Florida who has the body of a 10-year-old.
Check out a preview for the documentary here.