Tall, Taller, Tallest
By Kang Yan
Charles Byrne, who lived from 1761 to 1783, was nicknamed as "giant" due to his uncontrollable growth situation. DNA from the skeleton were used to solve the mystery of his excessive growth. Results showed that having tumors and blood relationships with the "giants" might be the cause of their non-stop growth.
Researchers have recently extracted DNA from Byrne's teeth remains. It turned out that the reason for his continuous growth in height was due to a rare and mysterious gene mutation, discovered only in 2006. This includes tumors and blood relations with ‘giants’.
Continuous growing is caused by a rare and mysterious gene mutation, which includes the presence of tumors and blood relations.
The tumors can lead to disfigurement, visual problems and other difficulties.
Also due to blood relations, the person might have inherited their ancestors mutated gene, causing them to grow and become ‘giants’.
Charles Byrne left his home in Ireland when he was 19 and travelled to London to make his fortune as a freak. He was known as the Irish Giant back then. However, suffering from tuberculosis and an excessive love of gin, he died a few years later, in 1783.
This case is similar to Brendan Holland's, an Irish who had the same problem of uncontrollable growth which persisted when he was 13 to 19 years old.
After many visits to the hospitals, Mr Holland concluded that a tumor was causing his unstoppable growth. The tumor was destroyed with radiotherapy and soon, his growth hormone levels dropped to normal. Currently 58-year-old, he holds a career of mining equipment. Further research was conducted on him and he was also known to have blood relationship with ‘giants’.
Usually, tumors that secrete growth hormone start to grow in adulthood, after people have reached their full height. However in some cases when tumors start growing in children or adolescents, it can result in gigantism. The glands churn out growth hormone, causing bones to keep growing.
Plus, traits of excessive growth from ancestors might be "accidentally" inherited by the younger generation. This is due to the presence of genes that carried this specific trait in the DNA.
Despite all that has been done, researchers will still carry on their research on the causes of excessive and non-stop growth. Perhaps new discoveries will be made through their research that will excite the public.