Brooke Greenberg, 20, has remained a medical mystery for years due to the fact that she appears to be a toddler although she is a 20 year old woman. Her development both physically and mentally is equivalent to that of a one year old.
Greenberg’s mysterious condition has reviewed the name “Syndrome X” by doctors. This name was given due to the fact that they can neither diagnose or explain it. She still has her baby teeth and stopped growing after age four.
She still requires 24 hour care from her family.
“Have you ever seen the movie Groundhog Day?” Brooke’s mother, Melanie Greenberg of Reisterstown, Md., told Discovery News. “That’s Brooke. Every day is the same thing with her. She wears the same clothes she’s been wearing for years. She hasn’t changed in appearance or size.”
Periodically, news reports sensationalize Brooke’s story, calling her ageless or frozen in time. But scientists interested in her case are looking beyond sensationalism. They are scanning Brooke’s genes for clues about what controls development and causes aging. What they find might eventually help them stop or slow aging in healthy adults.
“If we could identify the locus of her mutation, it gives me and my colleagues the opportunity to manipulate these genes and see if we can sustain youthful vitality, anatomy and physiology for unusually long periods of time,” said Richard Walker, a neuroendocrinologist of aging, now retired from the University of South Florida School of Medicine. “These genes are elusive and hard to find. With her mutation, we might be able to do that.”
Family photos reveal her story. As an infant, there were no signs anything was wrong. But as her younger sister grew, Brooke didn’t. Then at age 4, tragedy struck; a stroke, then doctors found a brain tumor.
“When Brooke was sick, she would be lying very still in her crib and the walk from the door to her crib, even though is was a couple of steps seemed like 10 miles because I was always wondering when I got to the crib, would she be alive?” Howard Greenberg said.
Doctors have done several tests on Brooke and have determined that a gene mutation may be the cause of her ceased maturation. Doctors such as Dr Eric Schadt, director of the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York believe that Brooke’s genes may aid in the discovery of a cure for age related diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Now, the focus is why did this young girl stop aging? Or did she?
“She is changing and she’s changing slowly,” Richard Walker, Ph.D, at the College of Medicine at the University of South Florida explained.
Dr. Richard Walker has dedicated his life’s work to unravel the mystery of aging.
“I was looking primarily for the cause of the basic mechanism that results in our ultimate demise,” Dr. Walker said.
He believes aging is a continuum of development and that our genes control that drive to change. For Brooke, her father says it’s simple.
“Her aging gene is not turned on,” Howard Greenberg said.
“If we can locate those genes in Brooke’s DNA, then we can test them for their putative affects on development and aging,” Dr. Walker said.
he couple know other parents might feel sad imagining their child will never grow up. But Mary and John feel Gabby is a blessing and enjoy feeling constantly like new parents.
Mary tell the Mirror: “All the children love holding her. Sophia helps me and acts like a little mum, and Anthony has just got to the stage where he likes brushing her hair.
“They have just accepted Gabby the way she is. They don’t even ask questions now, they know Gabby will always be small.
“The children understand not everyone is the same, and I think that’s a really positive thing.”