One little boy's DNA brings the promise of a healthy tomorrow for many.
Henry Engel is a beautiful child—and the survivor of a rare medical condition. Now, at age two, he cannot walk or speak. When he was an infant and his parents noticed that he was falling behind, Henry underwent numerous medical exams to discover the cause. Ultimately, a genetic test gave an answer: Henry has a mutation in his MECP2 gene. MECP2 mutations cause Rett syndrome, a disorder that typically affects girls after their first birthday, robbing them of learned skills and leaving them with cognitive deficits, loss of speech and coordination, and a variety of motor difficulties.
Among boys, MECP2 mutations cause severe problems and often premature death—but not in Henry. Henry has a unique mutation and milder symptoms. Today, Henry’s mutation is being studied by the very person who discovered that MECP2 mutations cause Rett syndrome: Dr. Huda Zoghbi. Dr. Zoghbi is now using Henry's cells to find treatments for Henry, other boys with MECP2-related disorders, and the multitudes of girls with Rett syndrome.