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article imageTerminal genetic aging disease forces UK brothers to regress

By Nancy Houser     Dec 5, 2012 in Health
Similar to Brad Pitt's "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," two middle-aged brothers in the UK have been diagnosed with terminal leukodystrophy. The genetic disease forces the patient to age backwards in time, back to a young child.
Two brothers, Michael and Matthew Clark, have been diagnosed with an abnormal genetic disorder that attacks the myelin sheath covering the nerve fibres of the brain - leukodystrophy - with both brothers' symptoms appearing in their thirties. Guardian reports that their behaviour and ability to function is steadily regressing.
Living in a one bedroom room flat, the needs of the boys are 24 hours a day with no end in sight for their parents, Anthony Clark, 63, and his wife Christine, 61, who have been unable to leave them at any time over the past year. The disease is so rare that only 100 people in the UK have been diagnosed with it.
Today they live at home with their parents, and are more interested in things like playing Mr. Potato Head and watching cartoons than interacting in the adult world. They squabble like toddlers, and their sleep habits have their parents getting up throughout the nights once again. Their physical abilities are deteriorating as well, as they now struggle to eat with a fork and a knife. Matthew is confined to a wheelchair, and they regress each day, reports The Stir.
Matthew, who is 39, had previously worked in a Walkers crisp factory and was married in 1990. He has a daughter, age 19, who is expecting a baby. He was divorced after displaying earlier symptoms of the disease, lost his job, and ended up living on the streets. He was found sleeping in a park for three weeks before finding a soup kitchen.
When staff realized something was wrong, they sent him to a doctor who carried out an MRI scan and gave a diagnosis of terminal leukodystrophy. When Michael was also diagnosed with the disease, it was discovered the brothers are the only siblings to both have this same disease, even though several other individuals have been diagnosed with it.
In The UK Telegraph, Mr Clark drew parallels between the disease and the 2008 fantasy drama, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, based on the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, in which an old man played by Brad Pitt gradually gets younger. “It’s a devastating disease. Both of them are very childlike now,” he said.
More about terminal leukodystrophy, genetic aging disease, aging backwards, backwards in time, abnormal genetic disorder
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