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23.10.2014
Inseparable since kindergarten, Jessica Rasdall, right, and Laura Gorman, left, had always been a dynamic duo. She lives in a modest home along a dusty road in the tiny town of Balsas, Ecuador, and she may hold the key to saving millions of lives. Campoverde, 63, was born with a rare form of dwarfism known as Laron syndrome, a genetic mutation that also prevents cancer and diabetes. Members of the Laron community are a kind of medical wonder to the doctors who have been studying them. For more than two decades, endocrinologist Jaime Guevara-Aguirre has been traveling to this remote part of the country to study the people there with the Laron mutation.


When ABC News visited in 2008, Guevara-Aguirre was in Ecuador and Valter Longo, a professor of gerontology and biological sciences, was in California working together to simulate the same genetic condition in mice. Now, they believe they are close to developing a pill that would mimic Laron syndrome in healthy adults to prevent cancer and diabetes. The pill, given to a fully grown adult, would prevent a patient's growth hormone - which not only makes people tall, but also fuels the growth of cancer cells - from binding to growth hormone receptors. Doctors hope this will not only significantly reduce the onset of cancer, but help the body kill cancer cells when they form. The remote mountains of southern Ecuador, just a short drive from the Peruvian border, are home to a large cluster of dwarfs with Laron syndrome.


Only about 300 people have been identified with the syndrome worldwide and more than one-third of them live in these villages. She lives in the town of Pinas and is a typical teenage girl who has dreams of being a doctor.
Petersburg, Fla., the best friends experimented with makeup, dyed each other's hair and loved to have fun.



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