Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Hacking humans: Drug company launches global hunt for ‘superhumans’

Hacking humans: Drug company launches global hunt for ‘superhumans’ 1

A drug maker has enlisted the help of the general public to track down people with extraordinary characteristics whose genetic make-up could form the basis of new medicines.

UCB, a Belgian pharmaceutical company, has launched a competition to find and describe individuals, families or communities who possess rare characteristics such as low sensitivity to pain or the ability to heal from injury quickly.

It hopes that the submissions will identify groups who have previously gone unnoticed by medical researchers and that the genetic basis of their abilities can be used to develop new drugs.

Dr Duncan McHale, vice president of global exploratory development at UCB said he had an “open mind” about what kind of traits would be most useful to explore.

“For example, individuals or groups who exhibited exceptional wound healing after surgery or trauma might warrant further investigation. Equally, those who have consistently displayed exceptional resistance or immunity to infections, or who, after a robust clinical diagnosis, displayed unusually fast or spontaneous disease remission might be the basis for a winning submission,” he said.

Dame Kay Davies, director of the Medical Research Council’s functional genomics unit at the University of Oxford said UCB’s approach “potentially holds much promise”.

Extraordinary individuals have inspired medical research in the past, but tracking them down has proven difficult, especially since those with protective traits may never come into contact with a medical professional.

A ten-year-old Pakistani street performer’s ability to cut himself with knives and walk on burning coals without experiencing pain caught the attention of researchers in 2006. Scientists have since discovered that he and a handful of other people in the region lack a particular protein on the surface of their nerves and hope to replicate this trait to treat severe pain.

A new osteoporosis drug, currently in late stage clinical trials, is based on the study of an Afrikaner community in South Africa with exceptionally strong and dense bones.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

The best submission will be awarded $10,000 (£6,020), and extra bonus awards of at least $1,000 will go to entrants judged to have provided an “especially interesting or relevant entry”.



You May Also Like


Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 Lwp Kommunikacio / Flickr The celebrated physicist passed away earlier this year. The late physicist predicted that genetic engineering...


Most of the people on Earth are completely unaware of everything that’s around us. When you look at the night sky, you see the...

Planet Earth

In the crime ridden streets of Columbia, urban myths tell of the horrors surrounding a local drug nicknamed “the devil’s breath.” The drug’s real...


Apparently, this is not a very good translation from the French, but it certainly does not hinder our understanding! ~J Leaked Bilderberg Closing Remarks...

Science & Technology

Many scientists are challenging the idea that we humans have more than two or even three strands of DNA. Some even believe that we...

Bizzare & Odd

By Susan Duclos This compilation video has to be one of the most disturbing amd horrifying pieces I have seen to date where scientists...


Aliens Abduct Egos, Not Souls Contactees boast of their special relationship with STO (Service-to-Others) aliens. Abductees claim that they are forcefully taken, then physically...

Metaphysics & Psychology

by Benjamin Radford  Last year it was pop superstar Kesha; now it’s actress Natasha Blasick — star of “Paranormal Activity 2″ — coming forward to...