Three genes known as CALM are identical across all vertebrates, with only one or two variations among all animal species and plants.
For that reason, scientists had thought evolution wanted it to stay unchanged, that it must be essential to the state of being alive.
Then, in 2012, scientists found one family in Sweden possessed a mutation on the CALM1 gene: living and breathing, albeit with shared cardiac issues.
Years later, the genes of convicted murdered Kathleen Folbigg found she too possessed a novel (or unique) variant of the CALM2 gene. A current inquiry in New South Wales is being held to determine whether this gene, passed down to her two daughters, could explain the circumstances of their deaths, for which their mother was found responsible.
But what is the purpose of calmodulin? And why is it so important to human life? Cosmos journalist Matthew Agius explains.
More on the Folbigg inquiries
- Can law keep up with science?
- From November: Danish researchers present novel CALM mutation study to inquiry
- Timeline compared: Folbigg convictions and genetic advances
- From 2021: Cosmos Briefing: Science v Law