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Yes, there is a disorder which causes those afflicted to age backwards. A recent British documentary chronicled the story of two brothers, Michael Clark (42) and Matthew Clark (39), who until roughly six years ago led completely normal lives. Both were raising families and holding stable jobs- Michael had been in the Royal Air Force and Matthew worked in a factory. But when they both stopped returning their parents calls and text messages family members knew something was wrong, and eventually the diagnosis came.

Both brothers have a terminal case of a form of Leukodystrophy which is a very rare degenerative disorder. The disease attacks the Myelin in the nervous system, and can actually be treated if detected during the earliest stages. Unfortunately, the Clark brothers were not diagnosed early enough, and their condition is so bad that it is affecting their bodies AND their minds.

The brothers now live at home with their parents, Tony and Christine Clarke, who try their best to take care of them. Christine notes, however, that it is not as easy to break up a fight over a monopoly game when two fully grown men (rather than actual seven-year olds) are fighting. When first written of in the British press the brothers were about 10 years old mentally, fascinated by balloons and toy trains and able to carry on somewhat meaningful conversation. They are now more like seven-year olds who wake up frequently during the night, throw tantrums, and need help eating their meals. Their bodies are physically regressing as well, and Matthew already requires a wheel chair.

Little is know about Leukodystrophy. It is estimated that several million cases of the roughly 40 different types of the disease exist in the United States. It is not likely that the Clark brothers will undergo any testing for research as the UK does not have a national genetic research center. The curious case of the Clark’s is a very sad story, unlikely to have a Hollywood ending.

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