MAY 21 2009 20:43h
The most famous case of a bearded woman was from the 19th century. The bearded Mexican Julia Pastrana’s illness was used for plays.
Chinese scientists have discovered a genetic irregularity that causes they syndrome of “bearded women” in sick women who were once considered to be strange creatures, and were even displayed at fairs.
The most famous such case from the history of medicine comes from the 19th century. The Mexican woman Julia Pastrana is in question, whose disease was used by a play producer, who toured the world with her. This was published in the study as a point of interest by the academy of medical sciences in Beijing, which was published on Thursday in the magazine “American Journal of Human Genetics”.
Pastrana suffered from CGHT, a hormonal disorder that is characterised by the abnormal growth of hair on the body and deformed face and gums.
“The genetic mutation that caused CGHT has not been discovered until today” explains one of the authors, doctor Zhang Xue. Researchers managed to determine the genetic irregularities on the chromosome 17q24.2-q24.3, which is the cause of the disease.
Because the study is hampered by the fact that these cases are very rare, doctor Zhang and his team carried out analyses on members of three Chinese families which suffer from the disease.
Some have shown various types of chromosomes changes which caused the deformations, others showed problems in gene duplication, which also causes the deformations.
“Our work clearly determines that CGHT is a gene disorder” explains doctor Zhang, who evaluated that additional research is needed in order to exactly understand the molecular mechanisms of that disease.