Saturday, November 05, 2022
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'One-in-8 billion': Woman who has survived several cancers shocks scientists

Researchers in Spain monitoring her condition express shock, deem her immune system "exceptional"

Web Desk
A woman goes through a medical testing procedure.— Unsplash
A woman goes through a medical testing procedure.— Unsplash

A 36-year-old woman who has survived several tumours has shocked medical professionals, who now believe she could hold the secret behind curing cancer.

A recent study reported the woman's diagnosis and the entire case; however, she was left unnamed. The study revealed that the first ever tumour diagnosed in her body was when she was a toddler. Every few years, a new tumour formed in different parts of her body.

Doctors knew about 12 of her tumours. At least five of these were cancers and developed in her brain, cervix, and colon, the report in Science Advances journal showed.

Researchers in Spain monitoring her condition expressed their shock, deeming her immune system to be "exceptional".

She is the only known person to have a genetic mutation that allows her to fight cancer like this. The irony is, the same mutation makes her abnormally susceptible to these growths.

The woman has two mutations on the MAD1L1 gene which would normally kill the embryo before even developing in the uterus.

"We still do not understand how this individual could have developed during the embryonic stage, nor could have overcome all these pathologies," Dr Marcus Malumbres, head of the cancer group at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) was quoted as saying by MailOnline.

The woman's body produces lymphocytes (immune cells) at an abnormally fast rate.

She also has microcephaly, a condition where the head is much smaller than the normal size, spots on her skin, and other conditions.

Miguel Urioste, the co-author of the study who headed the CNIO's Familial Cancer Clinical Unit, who is now retired, said that there has never been a case like the said woman's.

"Academically we cannot speak of a new syndrome because it is the description of a single case, but biologically it is," he said.