London, Jan 6 (ANI): British and German scientists has discovered that a race of giants may have sprung from a mutant gene that first emerged around 1,500 years ago and causes uncontrolled body growth.
The "gigantism gene" was discovered in the DNA of an 18th century man known as the "Irish Giant" who stood almost eight feet tall.
The Irish Giant was Charles Byrne - also known by his stage name O'Brien - born in Littlebridge, Co Derry, Northern Ireland, in 1761, reports the Scotsman.
Copies of the same mutation have been found in living patients suffering from gigantism and other symptoms of over-growth.
Scientists said they suspect all inherited the gene from the same common ancestor who lived up to 66 generations ago.
Some 200 or 300 people may be carrying the same mutation today.
Scientists conducting the new research extracted DNA from two of Byrne's teeth.
They discovered a mutant version of the aryl hydrocarbon-interacting protein gene, which matched those found in living patients from four Northern Irish families.
The research appears in the New England Journal of Medicine. (ANI)