Genetic clue to artist's deformity
Wednesday 31 May 1995
The discovery may lead at last to a definitive posthumous diagnosis of the painter, known for dark portraits of cafes and cabarets in which the tiny, tormented artist often made his subjects look more deformed than he was himself.
Scientists at New York's Mount Sinai Hospital, tracking the disorder in an Israeli Arab family, and a separate team at the US National Institutes of Health, studying a Mexican family, have found genetic indications - called "markers" - for a form of dwarfism known as pycnodysostosis. They have not yet isolated the gene itself.
The scientists hope the research, presented in the June edition of Nature Genetics, leads to a pre-natal screening test or even some day to corrective gene therapy. They also hope it sheds light on disorders involving bone formation.
As far back as 1962, two French doctors, Pierre Maro-teaux and M Lamy theorised that Toulouse-Lautrec, who died of alcoholism aged 36, suffered from pycnodysostosis.
Dr Bruce Gelb, working with Dr Robert Desnick at Mount Sinai, said the painter's relatives have thus far not seemed eager to exhume him for research. But since there was a fair amount of inbreeding in his family of French aristocrats, genetic tests on his cousins' surviving children could determine if the mutation runs in the family.
Toulouse-Lautrec's biographer, Julia Frey of the University of Colorado, questions in an accompanying essay in the journal whether his short stature was caused by this genetic defect or had some other origin.
He had some of the characteristics of pycnodysostosis, including shortness and a tendency to fracture bones, but did not have others like a bulging, misshapen skull and receding chin.
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour
- 1 Scottish independence: Learn from Quebec's mistakes and beware of promises. Vote Yes.
- 2 iOS 8 is full of shiny new features - but it's terrible news for app developers
- 3 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 4 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
- 5 Cocaine and cannabis haul hidden in Vatican car seized by French police
Scottish independence referendum live - The reunited kingdom: Scotland gives a clear 'No' to independence in historic referendum
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
Scottish independence: YouGov final prediction puts No campaign 8 points ahead - but Yes team remains optimistic
Scottish independence: Tory revolt against 'devo max' grows as Rail Minister Claire Perry joins
Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...
£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...
£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...