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Drug hope for nine-year-old girl

A nine-year-old girl from East Sussex who suffers from a rare premature aging disease is to start tests for a pioneering drug trial in the United States.

Hayley Okines, from Bexhill, ages eight times faster than she should because she suffers from progeria, a progressive terminal condition that afflicts about 45 people worldwide.

She has travelled with her parents Kerry and Mark to Boston's Children's Hospital to trial a drug they hope will lead to the premature aging process stopping.

The new drug has possible side-effects including diarrhoea and constipation, forcing Hayley to undergo regular monitoring.

She will also return to Boston every four months to see if the dose can be increased.

Hayley's mother Kerry said: "When Hayley was first diagnosed there was no hope. They didn't even know what caused progeria.

"So, within seven years she has been diagnosed, they have identified the gene that causes it, and now a possible treatment, too. At the end of the day we have got nothing to lose."

Children's Hospital Boston

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