The Beginnings of Super Humans
The ideal body of an athlete is all muscle and no fat. It is the body many athletes choose to compromise their health in hopes of obtaining that perfect image of super strength and agility. On top of those abilities, imagine being able to eat whatever you want. That is exactly what a 3-year-old named Liam Hoekstra can do while holding the title of “World’s Strongest Toddler.” Liam was born with a rare genetic condition called myostatin-related muscle hypertrophy. Simply known as muscle enlargement.
Without harming the heart or any other medical problems, myostatin-related muscle hypertrophy promotes above-average growth of skeletal muscles. Affected individuals have up to twice the usual amount of muscle mass in their bodies. Symptoms depend on the amount of myostatin protein present. The condition is diagnosed by measuring skeletal ...view middle of the document...
People inherit myostatin-related muscle hypertrophy through a pattern of inheritance called incomplete autonomic dominance. Individuals with a mutation in both copies of the MSTN gene in each cell (homozygotes) have increased mass and strength. Individuals with a mutation in one copy of the MSTN gene in each cell (heterzygotes) have the muscle mass to a lesser degree. That is the case with Liam Hoekstra who is believed to inherited the gene from his biological father.
At first glance, Liam Hoekstra’s appearance is that of a typical 3-year-old. There aren’t any obvious physical features that set him apart from the rest of his age group.
It is only when Liam participates in an activity requiring raw strength such as sit-ups or chin-ups that his tremendous upper body strength reveals itself. He performs at ease and with swiftness. The traits signifying his unique power. For now, the biggest concern for the Hoekstra family is keeping Liam fed and at ideal weight to match his super-fast metabolism.
Myostatin-related muscle hypertrophy is a condition still new to scientific study. Scientists first discovered the condition in the 1990s in Belgian Blue cattle, an unusual muscular breed. The first human case was documented in 2000 in a German boy. The condition is so rare, doctors do not know how many people worldwide have it. The two most well known cases, both documented in 2008, involve Wendy, the Bully Whippet, and Liam Hoekstra, the worlds strongest boy. With just over the decade, myostatin-related muscle hypertrophy has intrigued the world.
Scientists are studying other people with myostatin-related muscle hypertrophy in an effort to understand the mysteries of muscle growth and deterioration. Research on those who share Liam Hoekstra’s condition could lead to new treatments for muscular dystrophy and osteoporosis. The ability to manipulate myostatin in the human body could become the new trend next to steroids for athletes that are looking to gain an edge on the competition. The ideal body of super strength and agility is just that much more closer.