DNA may pre­dict who lives to 100

Austin American-Statesman - - WORLD & NATION -

WASHINGTON — The old­est among us seem to have cho­sen their par­ents well. Re­searchers clos­ing in on the im­pact of fam­ily ver­sus life­style find most peo­ple who live to 100 or older share some help­ful genes.

But don’t give up on diet and ex­er­cise just yet.

In an early step to un­der­stand­ing the path­ways that lead to sur­viv­ing into old age, a study this week in the jour­nal Sci­ence found that most cen­te­nar­i­ans had a num­ber of ge­netic vari­a­tions in com­mon.

That doesn’t mean there’s a quick test to de­ter­mine who will live long and who won’t; a healthy life­style and other fac­tors are also sig­nif­i­cant, noted the team led by Paola Se­bas­tiani and Thomas Perls of Bos­ton Uni­ver­sity.

Nev­er­the­less, Perls said the re­search might point the way to de­ter­min­ing who will be vul­ner­a­ble to spe­cific dis­eases sooner, and there might be a pos­si­bil­ity, down the road, to help guide ther­apy for them.

The team looked at the genomes of 1,055 Cau­casians born be­tween 1890 and 1910 and com­pared them with 1,267 peo­ple born later.

By study­ing ge­netic mark­ers, the re­searchers were able to pre­dict with 77 per­cent ac­cu­racy which came from peo­ple over 100.

“Seventy-seven per­cent is very high ac­cu­racy for a ge­netic model,” said Se­bas­tiani. “But 23 per­cent er­ror rate also shows there is a lot that re­mains to be dis­cov­ered.”

The large num­ber of ge­netic vari­a­tions iden­ti­fied by the study presents a daunt­ing chal­lenge in try­ing to iden­tify the spe­cific genes and their func­tion, sev­eral re­searchers said.

“The good news is you can iden­tify ge­netic loci they think may be linked to longevity. The bad news is there are 150 of them that may con­trib­ute a tiny, tiny bit,” said Leonard Guar­ente, who stud­ies the ge­net­ics of ag­ing at the Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Technology.

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