Dwarf Community May Hold Cancer Cure
Hope Comes from the Most Unexpected Places
When you picture scientists diligently in search of a cancer cure, you'd probably imagine a group of people in lab coats surrounding a microscope and chattering about biological functions. But the most promising breakthrough in cancer research recently came from a community of dwarfs living in a remote region of Ecuador. They suffer from a condition known as Laron syndrome - a form of dwarfism where the body remains perfectly proportioned. There are around three-hundred individuals in the world who suffer from Laron Syndrome. About one third of them live in Ecuador. This particular region is very remote, and marriage within families is not uncommon. As a result of this inbreeding, Laron Syndrome has become very prevalent. But here's what makes Laron syndrome so interesting: no Laron dwarf has ever been diagnosed with cancer or diabetes. Needless to say, when this phenomenon was realized, many people were very excited. If the cause of this unprecedented immunity were to be isolated, it could lead to a scientific miracle - something along the lines of a cure for either condition.
A Light on the Horizon
Thus far, studies of Laron syndrome have attributed the immunity to a natural lack of Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF1). It is a growth hormone, which Laron dwarfs cannot receive because they lack the receptors. Too much IGF1 has been shown to cause cancer in some cases. Though studies are still underway, the future looks promising. When scientists reproduced Laron Syndrome in several mice, the mice lived ten times longer, and were immune to both cancer and diabetes. Isolating the absolute source of the immunity is still a long way off. But when asked if this discovery brings us another step closer to a cure for cancer, Laron expert Dr. Jamie Guevara said ". . . in a way, yes."
All Eyes Turned
he Laron dwarfs are happy to volunteer. As it turns out, there is a cure for Laron syndrome - but it must be administered before puberty. Unfortunately, the treatment is expensive. Many of the dwarfs are volunteering to help doctors in researching their condition, and in return the doctors are lobbying for free treatments. Whatever comes of the research into Laron syndrome, one can be certain that the eyes of the world are on the small community of dwarfs in Ecuador. We can all hope that they hold the answer we've been seeking for years.