Thursday, May 21, 2009

Finally: Bearded Lady Syndrome Mystery Uncovered

One of life's great mysteries finally uncovered.
NEW research has shed light on the genetic underpinnings of a bizarre syndrome - first exhibited by a mid-1800s bearded lady - that has fascinated the public for centuries.

The case of bearded Mexican-born woman Julia Pastrana in the mid-1800s was the condition's first appearance in medical literature, noted Chinese researchers whose study was published in the May 21 issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics.

Researchers uncovered the specific genetic mutations that underlie congenital generalised hypertrichosis (CGH), a condition that spurs excessive hair growth over the entire human body.

They performed a sophisticated, high-resolution genetic analysis of several members of three Chinese families with congenital generalised hypertrichosis terminalis (CGHT), a subgroup of the condition, as well as an individual with a sporadic case of CGHT with gingival hyperplasia, an overgrowth of gum tissues.

CGHT is associated with "universal overgrowth of darkly pigmented hairs, enlarged gums and a distortion of facial features," a phenomenon evidenced by Pastrana.

The condition has been almost impossible to study because of its rarity, but senior study author Xue Zhang and colleagues were able to perform extensive genetic analysis on three Chinese families with the disorder.
Research is now underway to discover another timeless mystery haunting Americans for decades, one so terrifying it's difficult finding researchers.

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