Category: Author: Infinity Dental Web
This headline is not a joke. Scientists from an international pharmaceutical firm called UCB are recruiting mutants, or people with superhuman traits. That’s right — I’m talking X-Men type superhuman traits like Wolverine’s ability to heal very quickly.
The point of this worldwide search is for researchers to find what types of rare phenotypes are out there. UCB is particularly interested in those who have skin that stretches more than normal; individuals whose wounds heal exceptionally well and quickly; individuals who have displayed repeated resistance to infections; those who “‘after a robust clinical diagnosis, displayed unusually fast or spontaneous disease remission,’” Dr. Duncan McHale of UCB explained to the Daily Mail.
Scientists are hoping that in studying these people, the research will lead to possible treatments for diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, epilepsy, asthma, and Parkinson’s disease. In the past, pharmaceutical research teams have found individuals with “medically interesting phenotypes” but with great difficulty.
Here are two examples below of individuals, families, or communities from around the world who have been found to possess an unusual phenotype from the UCB Innovation Challenge website:
Abnormally Strong Bones
A group of individuals in South Africa belonging to an Afrikaner community have been identified has possessing abnormally strong and dense bones. This was attributed to a rare genetic disease among their group called sclerosteosis. A specific genetic mutation was targeted as causing this rare disease: the mutation in fact deactivated a protein sclerostin “which plays an important role in bone formation.” This information was used to create a medication to treat osteoporosis, a disease of weakened bones. [Brunkow M.E. et al., 2001]
Exceptional Tolerance To Pain
Another group of individuals in one region of Pakistan were found to possess an incredibly high tolerance to pain. The mutation found amongst these individuals within the gene SCN9A was deactivating a certain protein which, in a normal person’s body, exists “at the surface of nerve cells.” Because this protein was being deactivated, the person could not perceive pain. Though this sounds like an alarming condition, it has allowed researchers to develop a medication for a new analgesic, otherwise known as painkiller. [Cox et al., 2006]
As you can see, genetic mutations are not only found in fictional characters like the X-Men. However they are still are, and because it has proved so difficult for scientists to seek out individuals with unusual phenotypes, UCB has launched ‘Innovation Challenge.’ This online challenge is requesting anyone and everyone who believes they possess an unusual and rare medical characteristic to fill out an online form by February 20th. To be eligible, your rare condition must be a phenotype that can be studied and observed.
In a clever move to ensure people do enter the contest, UCB is providing monetary incentives. The best submission will receive $10,000, while “interesting or relevant” entries will receive smaller awards no less than $1,000.
If you think you qualify, enter Innovation Challenge here!
Dr. Mike Malone and his team practice expert cosmetic dentistry in Lafayette, LA. Dr. Malone is the former president and current accredited member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is also the official Cosmetic Dentist of the Miss Louisiana USA and Miss Louisiana Teen USA pageants. Check out his website for more information.