Belfast Telegraph

How rogue gene was one giant step for man

Robert McNeill

How intriguing to read about a gene found in rural Ulster folk that turns them into giants.

Height is the male trait women worship above all others (well, nearly all others) but, like anything else, it can be taken too far and cause problems.

The 1,500-year-old gene is thought to be prevalent in east Tyrone and south Londonderry. Now, top boffins from yon Queen's University in Belfast are to carry out genetic screening to determine what one of my colleagues described as "the long and the short of the matter". Luckily, two thirds of those carrying the gene don't experience health problems. And, despite a growing feeling in science that genetics can only offer maps rather than cures, we're sure the QUB team will advance understanding of the condition. Too late for Charles Byrne, the 18th century giant born near Cookstown, who lit his pipe from street lamps. Silly sod: didn't he know smoking stunts your growth?

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph