Vampires have taken many forms throughout history, from the horrifying demon-looking Nosferatu, to the sparkling teenage heartthrob Edward Cullen, the variety just goes on and on. However, while there are countless differences that make each of them unique, there are two common traits that these bloodsucking mythical creatures share – their never-ending blood thirst and their daylight sensitivity.
Back in 18th century, the English language gave birth to the the term “Vampyre.” However, despite the lack of term before that, the origins of these the bloodsuckers already go way back further in time.
The equivalent of the modern pop-culture vampire can be found in the fascinating stories and folklores of Ancient Greek and Mesotopia.
Furthermore, traces of “vampirism” can also be found in myths and cultures throughout the world like Philippines’ “Aswang,” Scotland’s “Baobhan Sith,” and China’s “Jiangshi.”
Erythropoietic Protoporphyria (EPP)
One of the most notable links to the origin of vampirisim is the blood disorder Erythropoietic Protoporphyria (EPP). This disorder is a form of porphyria that occurs mostly during childhood. People suffering on EPP are extremely sensitive to light to the point where they can burn and blister when exposed to it.
Talking about the disorder, Barry Paw, MD, of the Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center was quoted saying:
People with EPP are chronically anemic, which makes them feel very tired and look very pale with increased photosensitivity because they can’t come out in the daylight, Even on a cloudy day, there’s enough ultraviolet light to cause blistering and disfigurement of the exposed body parts, ears and nose.
Back in the medieval age, individuals who suffer on EPP tend to come out at night to hunt animals for their blood in order to ease the painful symptoms. Fortunately, modern-day patients are now advised to avoid daylight by staying indoors. They are also often prescribed blood transfusions with enough heme levels in order to reduce their symptoms.
As a co-senior on the study, Paw was quoted saying:
This newly-discovered mutation really highlights the complex genetic network that underpins heme metabolism, Loss-of-function mutations in any number of genes that are part of this network can result in devastating, disfiguring disorders.
Despite the fact that the study about EPP also dabbles in the origins of the vampire myth, the researchers also believe that it can help them improve therapy sessions and advance the treatment of people suffering on the disorder.