CONTORTIONIST
Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

Although we almost never think of it in that way, we humans have superpowers as well. The human is usually referred to as the “most complex” life form.

However, there are also a lot of traits in mutations and disorders that we usually see as something that is damaging our health. An example of this is the Ehlers Danlos syndrome; a group of syndromes that all incorporate being hypermobile (extremely flexible joints) and having a hyperelastic skin.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Ehlers-Danlos patients have a mutation in their genes. There are more than a dozen mutations that can cause EDS, and each form has it’s own specific mutations. For example, the classical EDS type usually comes from a mutation in the COL5A1 or COL5A2 gene, but the vascular type of EDS comes from a mutation in the COL3A1 gene. These mutations are inherited from the parents in either a dominant form (only one copy of the gene needed to express the syndrome) or a recessive form (two copies of the gene needed) depending on the type of the syndrome.

People with EDS can do multiple “abnormal” things, such as stretching their skin beyond normal limits, dislocating their joints and stretching or bending fingers, feet, arms, legs, etc. beyond normal limits. The syndrome also brings some health issues, such as chronic pain, poorly healing wounds, and excessive scar tissue forming.

WHY SYNTHESIZE THIS?

Humans might call it a syndrome, but having a super flexible outer layer (in the case of humans, skin) can have quite some benefits, e.g. creating more profit by stretching a valuable surface.

FUN FACTS:

– Elizabeth Taylor (British-American actress, known for her violet eyes and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf) probably had EDS. However she was never diagnosed, a lot of fans recognise symptoms of EDS in her behaviour.