News & Politics

These Five Genetic Mutations Can Give You Real-Life Superhero Abilities

From pain immunity to Hulk-like muscles, some humans are designed like their comic book heroes by nature.

Photo Credit: Troye Sivan

The surge in popularity of comic-based summer blockbuster films over the past two decades reveals a cultural fascination with the limits of the human body.

While the characters in these films represent feats of imagination, many of them contain similarities to actual abilities found in small subsets of humans.

Here are five of the most common super-hero abilities as represented in the real world by mortal humans.

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Huge Muscles

Mutations in the MSTN gene cause a condition called myostatin-related muscle hypertrophy.

Individuals with the condition have up to double the amount of muscle mass found in the average human.

Myostatin-related muscle hypertrophy is also associated with a reduction in body fat, leading to people with the condition appearing ripped regardless of exercise.

Super Speed

A mutation in the ACTN3 gene can cause a dramatic increase in sprint ability and muscle strength.

Olympic sprinters routinely possess a mutation of this gene.

Studies suggest that we still have much to learn about ACTN3 mutations and the full range of impact on athletic ability.

Pain Immunity

When a mutation causes SCN9A to produce a non-working protein, humans can experience a total lack of pain.

While a pain-free life may sound appealing, individuals with this variation can suffer serious injuries without realizing they’ve occurred.

Not all mutations of SCN9A are so pleasant — a related mutation of the SCN9A can actually cause severe pain.

Extreme Elasticity

Marfan syndrome is a genetic disorder that involves a mutation to the gene that produces fibrillin, resulting in abnormal connective tissue.

Individuals with the syndrome, which occurs in up to one in every 5,000 people, can be especially long and thin. 

People described as "double-jointed" for their ability to contort their bodies in unusual ways are likely to have the condition.

Singer Troye Sivan is among the best-known individuals with Marfan Syndrome.

Expanded Vision

Tetrachromacy is a genetic mutation that occurs in people who possess a mutation that adds a fourth receptor in their retinas.

The condition is marked by an ability to see a wider variety of color than the average human. The estimated number of colors a person with tetrachromacy may be able to see? 100 million.

Tetrachromacy is more common in women than men. Roughly 12 percent of women possess the mutation connected to the condition.

Watch the video below to learn more.

 

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