`Real-life Peter Pan` could hold clue to eternal youth

London: A 20-year-old girl, who stopped growing at the age of four and remained, physically and mentally, frozen as a child all her life could hold the key to eternal growth, it has been revealed.

Brooke Greenberg, who died after becoming ill in the summer, has been studied by scientists striving to understand her condition which is only known as Syndrome X, the Independent reported.

Greenberg, commonly known as real-life Peter Pan, suffered from medical problems, including hip dislocation, breathing difficulties, seizures and strokes, which began early and persisted throughout her life.

Scientists are currently trying to find out if the genetic cause of her agelessness can be isolated.

Greenberg's DNA, along with a handful of other children who have all the signs of Syndrome X, is now being studied so that understanding the condition could still yield an astonishing breakthrough in medical science.

Dr Eric Schadt, the director of the Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, has been entrusted by the girl's family with their daughter's DNA and blood samples to create stem cells, which can help investigate the genetic basis of her condition.

Schadt said that understanding the causes of Greenberg's condition could provide insights into key development and ageing processes, which could lead to novel ways to increase longevity, and reduce age-related disorders.

He has already sequenced Greenberg's genome, and that of her parents and three siblings.

He added that from this he can have a number of mutations identified that can explain Greenberg's condition, however, the function of the candidate genes that they have identified are not fully known, nor how they relate to development and/or ageing.

The research is been carried out in the hope that clear links may be drawn between the mutations identified and Syndrome X.

The mutation could then reveal the genetic processes that medical treatments would need to target to slow or stop ageing.