An extremely rare genetic condition that involves unusual growth of the skin, bones, head, and all sorts of other symptoms. First identified in 1979 between four boys who had very different manifestations. Today only about 120 people suffer documented cases of this syndrome worldwide, although there may be several more undocumented cases. Symptoms include:
  1. Partial enlargement of the hands and/or feet, usually asymmetric.
  2. Darkened, discolored, rough skin throughout the body.
  3. Tumors beneath the skin, resembling lymph gland tumors on the surface. These can develop and grow rapidly, but can also remain unchanged or even show signs of regression.
  4. Skull anomalies such as a large head or asymmetry
  5. Deep lines and overgrowth of soft tissue on the soles of the feet.
Because Proteus is so rare, not much is known about it. Even the gene it resides on is still a mystery. It is suspected that it is caused by mutation in the developing fetus rather than by an inherited trait. Diagnosis is based on checking for the above symptoms, and treatment is a matter of taking steps to stop pain, which usually involves surgery. A cure is currently out of the question.

Historical photographic evidence suggests that Joe Merrick, the Elephant Man, suffered from Proteus, rather than Neurofibromatosis, which was itself suggested as a better alternative than elephantiasis, which was named after Merrick.

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