News & AnalysisGenetics and Disease

Growth Defect Blocks Cancer and Diabetes

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Science  18 Feb 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6019, pp. 837
DOI: 10.1126/science.331.6019.837

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Life can be treacherous for Ecuadorians with Laron syndrome, a rare type of dwarfism. As children, they are vulnerable infectious diseases. As adults, they are prone to fatal accidents, such as falls on stairs that aren't sized for their short legs. But a new study shows that these people, who carry a genetic defect that prevents them from responding to growth hormone, are almost exempt from cancer and diabetes. The paper solidifies a link researchers have long suspected from animal studies and suggests that dialing down the growth-controlling molecular pathways might protect healthy adults from these diseases.