Researchers at the Stevens Institues of Technology discovered the Werner Helicase Interacting Protein 1 (WHIP) while performing genetic investigations of the cell cycle. WHIP is linked to progeria, or disease of premature aging at a young age. It is specifically associated with the Werner Syndrome progeria, an autosomal recessive trait which results in the appearance of old age by 30-40 years of age. Its physical characteristics may include short stature (common from childhood on) and other features usually developing during adulthood: wrinkled skin, baldness, cataracts, muscular atrophy and a tendency to diabetes mellitus, among others.
For more information on this protein and it’s role in aging see the Science Daily article at the following URL: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101116103628.htm
This article brought to mind Johnny Gunther in the novel Death Be Not Proud. While Johnny was not affected by Werner Syndrome, he was forced to show strength in the face of adversity and resilience during his untimely illness. Roughly 1/200,000 people at the age of 16 and 1/100 people in their 60-80’s suffer from cancer. Johnny, only 17, suffered from glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Johnny’s 15 month struggle with brain cancer was memorialized in Death Be Not Proud, telling the poignant story of a young man of high intelligence and poise in the face of a devastating disease, painful treatments, and repeated setbacks. Johnny communicated with the brightest physcians and scientists, including Penfield and Einstein, who instilled the belief in Johnny that “Scientists will save us all.” This is a bold statement, however, with advancements such as the WHIP discovery we can trust in the constant evolution and refinements of modern day medicine to save us from specific ailments.