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Uncommon and Rare Genetic Disorders

Some rare genetic disorders you didnt think existed
Retinitis pigmentosa is a group of rare inherited genetic disorders caused by one of more than 70 genes

Retinitis pigmentosa is a group of rare inherited genetic disorders caused by one of more than 70 genes

Exploring the vast array of genes within our cells reveals their distinct functions, each contributing to our biological processes. Even minor alterations (mutations) in a gene’s composition can have substantial impacts on an individual. In this discussion, we delve into lesser-known genetic disorders that might not be familiar to you.

Proteus Syndrome

Proteus Syndrome is an uncommon genetic disorder characterized by excessive growth in bones, skin, and other tissues. The condition arises from a specific mutation in a gene called AKT1, which regulates cell growth. Individuals with Proteus Syndrome exhibit an imbalance in cell growth, resulting in abnormal tissue development and disfigurement.

A person Proteus Syndrome- an uncommon genetic disorder

Image Source: Wikipedia


Commonly referred to as ‘lobster claw hand’ or ‘split hand malformation,’ this genetic disorder manifests as a separation or cleft in the area where the middle finger or toe would typically form. The condition is associated with mutations occurring in chromosome 7, leading to the observed abnormalities in limb development.

A person with ectrodactyly- an uncommon genetic disorder

Image Source: Wikipedia


Polymelia is a rare disorder characterized by the presence of more limbs than the typical number for a particular species. This anomaly occurs when a partially absorbed conjoined twin is present during embryonic development. The additional limbs may vary in form and function, and while polymelia is most commonly observed in humans, it can also occur in animals.

A black cow with polymelia- an uncommon genetic disorder

Image Source: Wikipedia


Anencephaly is a disorder characterized by the absence of a significant portion of the brain, skull, and scalp. This condition occurs during early embryonic development, specifically affecting the development of the cerebral hemispheres, which are the primary regions of the brain involved in higher cognitive functions. As a result, individuals with anencephaly typically have underdeveloped or missing brain structures, leading to severe neurological impairments.

An illustration of a person with anencephaly- an uncommon genetic disorder

Image Source: Wikipedia

Feet facing backwards

Wang Fang, a young woman from China, gained attention due to a rare condition in which her feet were positioned backwards. Despite this unique anatomical abnormality, Wang Fang has managed to live a healthy and normal life, defying the limitations that her condition may have initially suggested. Her story serves as a testament to the resilience and adaptability of the human body, showcasing the remarkable ability of individuals to overcome physical challenges and lead fulfilling lives.

A smiling chinese woman with a feet facing forward- an uncommon genetic disorder

Image Source: nydailynews


Scientists still do not know the exact cause of this disorder. The skin of the individual becomes thick and lumpy and a bony lump grows on the patient’s forehead. Experts suggest that the disorder is a possible combination disorders like neurofibromatosis type I and Proteus syndrome.

Image Source: Gudhealth

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Diprosopus, also known as craniofacial duplication, is an exceptionally rare hereditary disorder characterized by the duplication of facial features, either partially or entirely. In this condition, parts of the face or the entire face may be duplicated. The exact cause of diprosopus is not yet fully understood, but it is believed to be associated with abnormalities in the function of a protein called Sonic hedgehog (SSH).

The Sonic hedgehog protein plays a crucial role in embryonic development, particularly in the patterning and formation of facial structures. Disruptions or mutations in the SSH gene can disrupt the normal signaling and regulation of facial development, leading to the duplication of facial features seen in diprosopus.

Due to the extreme rarity of this condition, limited research has been conducted, and the underlying mechanisms and specific genetic factors contributing to diprosopus are still being investigated. Further studies are necessary to gain a deeper understanding of the disorder and its molecular basis.

A baby with diprosopus- an uncommon genetic disorder

Image Source: Wikipedia

Harlequin ichthyosis

Harlequin ichthyosis is an extremely rare and severe genetic disorder that affects the skin. Individuals with this condition have thick, diamond-shaped plates of skin that are separated by deep, red fissures or cracks, covering their entire bodies.

The disorder is caused by mutations in certain genes involved in the production of a protein called filaggrin, which plays a crucial role in maintaining the skin’s barrier function. The mutations lead to a significant impairment in the formation and function of the skin’s outermost layer, resulting in the characteristic thickened skin plates and deep cracks.

The condition is apparent from birth and presents significant challenges for affected individuals. The abnormal skin formation can result in a range of complications, including difficulties with temperature regulation, increased susceptibility to infections, and impaired movement due to the rigid and tight skin.

Harlequin ichthyosis requires intensive medical care and treatment, focusing on managing the symptoms, preventing infections, and providing support for the affected individual and their families. While there is no cure for the condition, advances in medical care have improved the prognosis and quality of life for individuals with Harlequin ichthyosis. Ongoing research aims to further understand the underlying mechanisms of the disorder and develop potential therapies to alleviate its impact.

A baby with harlequin ichthyosis- an uncommon genetic disorder

Image Source: Impocity


Cyclopia is a rare condition that occurs when the embryo fails to divide properly, resulting in the fusion of the eye tracks into a single hollow. This condition is characterized by the presence of a single eye in the center of the forehead. While Cyclopia is more commonly observed in animals, it can also occur in humans, although it is extremely rare.

Image Source: Leilajouybari

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Cutaneous horn

Cornu cutaneum, also known as a cutaneous horn, is a peculiar skin condition characterized by the presence of an unusual skin tumour with a horn-like outgrowth. These horns can vary in size, ranging from small protrusions to larger growths. In some rare cases, the horns can reach significant lengths.

The growth of a cutaneous horn is typically a result of an underlying skin condition, such as actinic keratosis or squamous cell carcinoma. The horn itself is composed of keratin, a tough protein that forms the structure of the outermost layer of the skin, and it can have a hard, crusty texture.

While cutaneous horns can occur on various parts of the body, they most commonly appear on areas exposed to sunlight, such as the face, scalp, ears, and hands. It is essential to have any cutaneous horn evaluated by a healthcare professional, as it may indicate an underlying skin pathology that requires appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

A person with a cutaneous horn on the head

With advances in genetics and biotechnology, some of these disorder could be corrected in the future.

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