Oliver has Hurler Syndrome, leaving him unable to break down deadly toxins in his body. Oliver also has hamster extract. The hamster extract appears to counteract some of the worst side effects of Hurlerâ€™s Syndrome, and as an added bonus? Makes his hair softer, too.
Of course, the Daily Mailâ€™s take on the story brings to mind vast legions of hamsters being milked for their extract in some sort of dystopic hamster version of The Matrix. A quick trip to Google brings a slightly less science fiction, more science fact account of the treatment, which involves enzymes taken from genetically modified Chinese hamsters, given via slow IV drip once a week. The enzymes appear to mimic those Oliver is missing, cleaning up the toxins, helping him grow, and giving him much-needed energy.
Me, Iâ€™m just slightly disappointed there will be no hamster Neo.
(With thanks to birthday girl Laurie for the tip!)
Originally posted at the American Journal of Bioethics Editors Blog.