Above: Hayley, who has featured in Embarrassing Bodies, was kind enough to talk to us about living with progeria
Progeria, sometimes called Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS), is a little-understood and incredibly rare genetic condition. It affects an estimated one in eight million people and its symptoms very closely mimic the ageing process.
The disease exclusively affects young children. A genetic defect prevents sufferers from producing a protein involved in the repair of DNA. Instead, the sufferer’s body produces a defective protein that causes damage at cellular level, leading to problems that are remarkably similar to human ageing, but rapidly accelerated.
Physically, progeria typically causes baldness, a narrowed or shrunken face, stunted growth, a small jaw, skin problems, limited movement and many other problems besides.
Most progeria sufferers die in their teens, while a few survive into their 20s. The nature of the disease means death is usually as a direct result of heart failure, stroke or another condition associated with old age.
You can find our more about groundbreaking research into progeria at the Progeria Research Foundation >
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