In Bangladesh, around ten members of the same family have an identical characteristic. Indeed, they do not have fingerprints on the fingers of their hands and feet. The astonishing hallmark of this family provides an opportunity to explain a very rare congenital disease: adermatoglyphy.
Apu Sarker is a 22-year-old young man living with his family in a village in Râjshâhî district, in northwestern Bangladesh. On a daily basis, he encounters certain problems. It is difficult for him to obtain a driver’s license, a passport and even a simple SIM card for his phone! Apu Sarker, on the other hand, has an identity card on which his fingerprints must be included. However, in the place reserved for these, it is written “no fingerprints” as described by a local newspaper Now on December 26, 2020.
In fact, Apu Sarker has a very rare congenital disease: adermatoglyphia. This is manifested by an absence of dermatoglyphs (the other name for finger and palm prints) on the hands, but also on the feet. In addition, nine other members of his family are in the same situation as him.
“Isolated congenital adermatoglyphy is a rare genetic developmental disorder occurring during embryogenesis. It is characterized by the absence of epidermal ridges in the palms and soles of the feet, which leads to the absence of fingerprints, without further manifestation. It is associated with a restriction in the number of sweat gland openings and hypohydrosis in the palms and soles of the feet,” according to Orphanet, the portal for rare diseases and orphan drugs.
Usually, fingerprints appear between the 16th and 25th weeks of pregnancy. During this time, the skin is malleable, so imprints are dependent on both genetic factors and the intrauterine environment. However, people with adermatoglyphy have experienced an alteration in the SMARCAD1 gene, preventing coding of the protein responsible for the development of imprints on the skin. However, this gene being dominant, a single carrier chromosome is sufficient to activate the disease. This therefore explains why several members of the same family can contract it.
In a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology in 2011, researchers had identified only four affected families across the world. It should be noted that the discovery of the adermatoglyphy dates back to 2007 when a Swiss national encountered problems with the border authorities of the United States. The customs officers had indeed discovered an absence of fingerprints in this person, so that researchers then carried out DNA analyzes for the whole family. After this case, the scientific world began to give this disease a nickname: “immigration disease”.