WHIP Discovery Excites Researchers

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.


About vflynn

I am a Senior at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri aspiring to be a physician. Originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, I came to Missouri to experience another region of the U.S. and in the past three years have gained strong ties to the community. In this blog, I will focus on reflections of medical visions in literature and contribute insights into contemporary issues and thought.
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One Response to WHIP Discovery Excites Researchers

  1. Maureen Tuthill says:

    You make an interesting association between Johnny’s condition and Werner Syndrome because he had to have grown old quickly in some ways as a result of his cancer experience. If a child has a serious disease from an early age, maybe it is not as life altering as we think because it is the only reality he or she knows. It is difficult to face death and debilitation at any age. I wonder if it’s easier for children in some ways because they haven’t had time to generate the sense of things that are lost. Johnny was certainly wise before his time.

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