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The Independent: ‘Genetic superheroes’ are real and could lead to life-saving treatments – but nobody can talk to them

April 12, 2016

The Independent: ‘Genetic superheroes’ are real and could lead to life-saving treatments – but nobody can talk to them

Andrew Griffin April 12, 2016

There are 13 people in the world who might be able to provide life-saving treatments for some of the world’s most damaging diseases — but doctors can’t find them.

The 13, who have been named “genetic superheroes”, have remained healthy despite carrying the same genetic mutations that usually lead to childhood diseases. Each of them should have been susceptible to Mendelian disorders such as cystic fibrosis, which begin in early childhood as the result of a defect in a gene.

But those 13 people didn’t have the usually inevitable illnesses that would be associated with their genetic make-up. They are apparently completely unaffected by their problem genes.

The only problem now is that scientists have no idea who those people are. They were identified by scientists during a study of more than half a million people’s DNA — but the researchers only had access to their genes, not the people themselves.

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