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Want to know how long you will live? Read this

Last updated on: July 2, 2010 11:38 IST

Want to know how long you will live? Read this

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A mix of around 150 variations in DNA sequence could act as an effective predictor of whether a person has the genetic artillery to live up to 100 years, researchers have found.

The finding is the result of a trawl through the genomes of more than 1,000 centenarians, scouring about 300,000 sequence variations for possible links to exceptionally long lifespans.

Researchers led by Thomas Perls, a professor of medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine in Massachusetts, found a complex mix of genetic variants, potentially affecting everything from bone metabolism and hormone regulation to stress responses and brain-cell function.

Some of the variants could have a role in staving off debilitating age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease and cardiovascular disease.


Image: Brazilian patient Jorge Cocer and his daughter Carolina react during their national soccer team's 2010 World Cup Group G soccer match against Portugal, at the Cancer Institute Hospital in Sao Paulo.
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This complexity has been hinted at in previous experiments, said Thomas Kirkwood, director of the Institute for Ageing and Health at Newcastle University, UK.

'The search for single genes with big effects on longevity has not proven fruitful. We are not looking for genes that simply specify a clock. The story, when it emerges, will intrinsically be quite complicated,' Nature quoted him as saying.

To learn more about the genetic underpinnings of 'exceptional longevity', the researchers have been tracking 800 centenarians enrolled in the New England Centenarian Study.


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The team initially found 70 genetic variants linked to exceptional longevity, but narrowed this list down to 33 after repeating the study in another set of 254 people over the age of 90.

Although these DNA sequence variants were each individually linked to exceptional longevity, the researchers also wanted to find variants that worked in combination.

So they analysed the combined effects of genetic variants on the likelihood of living to the age of 100.

These models yielded 150 variants that could be used to predict, with 77 per cent accuracy, the likelihood of becoming a centenarian.

One key to longer life may be postponing age-related illnesses, and 90 per cent of centenarians remain disability-free into their early 90s, said Perls. The study is published in Science1.


Image: Kamala Sundari Paul, 95, takes a dip in river Hooghly in Kolkata
Photographs: Jayanta Shaw/Reuters
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Source: ANI