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Medical Researchers Hunt Down 13 Mutants With “Superhero DNA” to Treat Genetic Diseases

Update Date: Apr 13, 2016 04:53 AM EDT

Thirteen mutants are now being hunted by the medical researchers which they believe that can help them in treating diseases through their DNAs. However, these people are not aware that they have the "superhero DNA," and now, the search is on.

A team of international scientist made a study through the DNAs from 600,000 people. They focused on those who were born with genetic disorders that could lead to serious diseases like cystic fibrosis but somehow survived and remained resistant to the illness, ABC reported.

They have found 13 individuals who are possibly holding the cure to a wide range of diseases. Unfortunately, these individuals cannot be recontacted due to the consent rules that were signed by the study participants.

Professor Stephen Friend from the Mount Sinai Hospital's Icahn School of Medicine started the project in 2014. He used a global crowd-sourcing appeal where he got hundreds of thousands of sample DNAs from around the world from participants who agreed that their DNAs could be used for research.

"Basically, all we need is information, we need a swab of DNA and a willingness to say, 'what's inside me?'" Professor Friend said in a 2014 TED Talk.

They are looking for the individuals who are at risk for diseases but there is something inside of them that is protecting and keeping them from showing the symptoms. The research is part of a study called "The Resilience Project."

Professor Friend and his team will launch a follow-up project in which the participants who will submit their genetic data will agree to recontact.

"Because of the inability to confirm the source or validity of the variants and the inability to recontact the individuals, this paper does not constitute a proof of principle," argued Dr. Ada Hamosh, from Johns Hopkins University.

While Dr. Scott Hebbring, from the University of Wisconsin, was fascinated with Professor Friend's study, he also said that the diseases can present differently even the same mutation occurred between patients, according to BBC.

"Finding genetic superheroes will require other kinds of heroism - a willingness of participants to donate their genomic and clinical data and a commitment by researchers and regulators to overcome the daunting obstacles to data sharing on a global scale," said Dr. Daniel MacArthur, from the Massachusetts General Hospital.

According to Dr. Matthew Hurles, from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, the study "exemplifies the often unforeseen benefits that can be achieved from responsible sharing of anonymized genetic and clinical data."

"The full benefits of such altruistic data sharing is only fully realised when it becomes possible to go back to the resilient individual to try to understand how their resilience is achieved.

"This poses research and ethical questions. Personally, if I were that individual, I'd happily share my genome if it could help someone else who had been dealt a less favourable genetic hand," he added.

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