Gabby Williams is 8 years old, but she still wears diapers, cries instead of talks and weighs just 11 pounds, with baby-like skin and facial features.
Gabby Williams has an exceedingly rare condition where she ages at a very slow pace. Although 8 years old, she is the size of a baby. (Image: TLC video screenshot via Good Morning America)
Williams, according to Good Morning America, has a rare condition that causes her to age at an extremely slow rate. It's a condition that is the focus of research as to what might cause it, which could someday lead to "biological immortality."
Richard Walker with the All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, is leading research on this topic and has found damage on a gene that control's growth, or developmental inertia.
Good Morning America reported more specifically that Walker believes the mutation is on the regulatory genes on the second female X chromosome.
"If we could identify the gene and then at young adulthood we could silence the expression of developmental inertia, find an off-switch, when you do that, there is perfect homeostasis and you are biologically immortal," Walker said, noting this wouldn't mean people would stop dying, as accidents and other factors would come into play.
"But you wouldn't have the later years -- you'd remain physically and functionally able," he continued.
The parents allowed Gabby to become involved in the research because they worried their other children, who don't have Gabby's condition, could someday have a child with this genetic problem. Walker told them though that it is a mutation, not a genetically inheritable trait.
Gabby still wears diapers and functions as a baby even though she is 8 years old. Researchers believe a mutation in her genes could reveal a pathway to cure some diseases or even the so-called "fountain of youth". (Image: TLC video screenshot via Good Morning America)
"That was a relief for us," Gabby's mother, Mary Margret Williams said.
From there, the Williams family allowed Gabby to continue in the research, considering the other implications it could have in the medical field.
"Alzheimer's is one of the scariest diseases out there," Williams told GMA. "If what Gabrielle holds inside of her would find a cure -- for sure we would be a part of the research project. We have faith that Dr. Walker and the scientific community do find something focused more on the disease of aging, rather than making you 35 for the rest of your life."
GMA reported other "Benjamin Button"-like cases, similar to Gabby, including a 29-year-old Florida man who looks like a 10 year old and a 31-year-old woman in Brazil who is like that of a 2-year-old.
Although very rare, Gabby is not the only one with this condition. A Brazilian woman still has the body of a toddler. (Image: TLC video screenshot via Good Morning America)
TLC featured a special about this condition last year and has a follow-up, "40-Year-Old Child: A New Case," airing Monday.
Watch this preview for the show:
This condition is the exact opposite of another that has made headlines where a teenager looks like a middle-age woman.