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article imageGirl who never ages may hold key to immortality

By Jonathan Lam     Aug 18, 2013 in Health
Billings - Gabby Williams is eight years old and weighs only 11 pounds. Her parents have agreed to let scientists use her for experiments in order to fill in the missing puzzle pieces of immortality.
At the age of eight, Gabby Williams still looks like an infant and needs to be cared for as if she were a newborn. Her parents still change her diapers and feed her multiple times a day. Mary Margret Williams, her mother, says that Gabby hasn't changed much throughout the years. Even her skin still feels like a baby's and her hair is still fine-textured.
While keeping all those baby features, Gabby did get a little taller in the eight years. Margret tells ABC News, " She has gotten a little longer and we have jumped into putting her in size 3-6 month clothes instead of 0-3 months for the footies."
Gabby's condition where it stops her from aging is so rare that scientists have yet to label it with an official name. There will be an upcoming TLC special called "40-Year-Old Child: A New Case" featuring Gabby Williams. Scientists have also discovered two more people with similar conditions. There will be a 29-year-old Florida man with the appearance of a 10-year-old, and a 31-year-old Brazilian woman who still looks like a toddler. Their stories, along with Gabby's, will be incorporated in the TLC special that airs on Monday at 10 p.m. Eastern Time.
Richard Walker, the show's medical doctor, will be searching for clues as to why these individuals don't age and what they have in common. Walker believes that he has found one of the genes responsible for developmental inertia. He also claims that mutations are on the regulatory genes on the second female X chromosome. He explains that developmental inertia, or physiological change, is vital for human growth. Without that process we would never be able to develop. Walker tells ABCNews "When we develop, all the pieces of our body come together and change and are coordinated. Otherwise, there would be chaos." However, the body continues to change once it reaches maturity, and there is no way to stop the process.
At first, Gabby's parents were concerned about their daughter being used to find the fountain of youth for vanity purposes. But Walker explains that the researched is focused on helping people who struggle with the hardships that come with old age. "Alzheimer's is one of the scariest diseases out there," Gabby’s mom Mary Margret said. "If what Gabrielle holds inside of her would find a cure — for sure we would be a part of the research project. We have faith that Dr. Walker and the scientific community do find something focused more on the disease of aging, rather than making you 35 for the rest of your life."
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