Feeds

Boffins identify inherited 'werewolf' mutation

Several packs discovered after four-year search

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Chinese boffins believe that they may have discovered the gene for "werewolf syndrome", and say that there are at least thirty people with the inherited disorder among the population of the People's Republic.

Science magazine reports that the correct medical name for werewolf syndrome is not lycanthropy but congenital generalized hypertrichosis terminalis (CGHT), and that geneticist Xue Zhang of the Peking Union Medical College in Beijing has "scoured his country for cases".

Apparently after more than four years of intensive hunting, Zhang and his team identified three families afflicted with the "rare but highly heritable disorder", and managed to persuade 16 sufferers to have their DNA scanned for genetic abnormalities.

According to Zhang & Co's paper, published yesterday in the American Journal of Human Genetics, all the CGHT sufferers had a "copy number variation" mutation in the same four genes on their seventeenth chromosome.

Zhang noted that the affected genes are near to one called SOX9, which is linked to hair growth. It could be that SOX9 in hair follicle stem cells is affected by the "werewolf syndrome" mutation to cause excessive hair growth - "but this is pure speculation", admits the geneticist.

This being the real world, "werewolf syndrome" has nothing to do with the full moon. CGHT sufferers do grow a thick hairy pelt, and some "also have a broad, flat nose, large ears, a large mouth, and thick lips, and, occasionally, an enlarged head and jaw", according to Science. But they don't suffer bestial urges any more than the rest of us, aren't immune to lead bullets etc.

Apparently CGHT victims in modern times have been more likely to find employment as "bearded ladies" at circuses than to be pursued by superstitious villagers with flaming torches and pitchforks.

Read all about it layman-stylee from Science here, or for those up on their genetics (and with the right subscription) the scholarly paper is here. ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.