Sure, we may not have people capable of flying or shooting energy beams from their eyes like the X-Men — but mutations are a real thing in the real world. Now pharmaceutical companies are trying to turn those rarities of nature into something anyone can enjoy.
According to a fascinating new report by Bloomberg, pharmaceutical companies like Amgen and Genentech are studying the DNA of extremely rare humans to try and emulate some of their cooler abilities. A few examples? Steven Pete is one of just a few dozen people who, literally, can’t feel pain. They’re also studying the abilities of Timothy Dreyer, who has bones so dense he can walk away from a car crash with no broken bones. He’s one of just 100 people alive with that particular mutation.
Using new advances in technology, research teams at these pharmaceutical companies are aiming to figure out how their abilities work and how they can potentially be replicated in a way that wouldn’t have a negative effect on a potential user. That’s the tricky part. These unique conditions have caused significant problems for the people affected, from abnormalities due to excessive bone growth to injuries caused by a lack of awareness (because Pete couldn’t feel that he was actually hurt).
Testing and research are still in the early stages, though one potential benefit has already been tested and identified. Scientists tested a drug on mice in space, where bone density is typically lessened, and found the treatment helped sustain bone density. If we ever hope to reach Mars (or beyond) in the next few decades, that particular skill could come in handy.
Sadly, we still have a long way to go until we can pop a pill and become a member of the X-Men. But hey, we’re taking a step in that exciting (and somewhat scary) direction.
Check out a brief video of Steven Pete below, discussing his rare condition.