Genes for centenarians

04 July 2010
Posted by Chris Smith.

Scientists have identified a series of genetic markers capable of predicting, with 77% certainty, who will live to more than 100.

The effects of old age on the human faceThe study, by Boston University researcher Paola Sabastiani and her colleagues and published in Science, looked at DNA from over 1055 centenarians (who survived beyond the ages of 95-119) and 1267 controls (amongst whom the average age of death was 75).

By comparing the patterns of genetic markers called SNPs - single nucleotide polymorphisms - that are common to the members of each group, the researchers identified 150 such SNPs that strongly co-segregated with longevity.

Applying these markers as a screen to other samples showed that they could predict, with high accuracy, those equipped genetically to live to a very old age. Moreover, these SNPs can now also be used to spotlight genes that confer these abilities, informing our understanding of the genetic basis of ageing, its effects, and perhaps how to better control it.

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