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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 May 2007, 19:11 GMT 20:11 UK
Ageing Hayley to trial new drug
Hayley Okines
Hayley Okines said she was excited but nervous about the treatment
A nine-year-old girl who suffers from a rare premature ageing disease is to fly to America to undergo experimental treatment that could prolong her life.

Hayley Okines, of Bexhill, East Sussex, was diagnosed with Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome at the age of one.

She will fly to Boston next week to take part in anti-ageing drug trials.

"I never thought in a million years that there would be a treatment available in Hayley's lifetime," her mother, Kerry, said.

"When she was diagnosed there was nothing out there.

"So now it's here, if it does go wrong it's [still] one step closer to helping somebody else."

'Excited but nervous'

It is hoped the experimental drug, which has only been tested on mice, will encourage Hayley to grow taller and her follicles to produce hair.

But one expert told BBC South East Today it could attack the good protein in Hayley's body as well as the bad.

Hayley said: "It's really exciting but at the same time I'm really nervous... because something bad might happen."

Sufferers of the syndrome can experience dwarfism, baldness, wrinkles and hardened arteries.

Most children with the condition die from heart disease before the age of 15.

Hayley Okines is taking part in American drug trials

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