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King's College London - Health: More than a medical matter

Genes discovered that may increase longevity

24 May 2010

By Tamara Hirsch

Appeared in BioNews 559
Scientists have identified several genetic variants linked to living a long life. The right 'suite' of so-called 'Methuselah' genes could offset the ill effects of smoking, drinking and poor diet, the new research shows.

The scientists found the genes - carried by one in 10,000 people - could prevent illnesses such as cancer and heart disease or at least delay them for up to three decades, according to The Times.

The 'Methuselah' genes include ADIPOQ, which is found in about 10% of young people, but in nearly 30% of people living past 100. Additionally, the CETP gene and the ApoC3 gene are found in 10% of young people, but in about 20% of centenarians.

Professor Nir Barzilai discovered some of these genes while analysing the genome of over 500 centenarians and their offspring. He said that the discovery gave scientists clear targets for developing drugs with potential to prevent or delay the onset of age-related diseases, making it possible to lengthen people's lives and keep them healthier for longer.

A separate study in which researchers are investigating 3,500 Dutch people over the age of 90, showed how the physiology of people in long-lived families differs from normal people. Eline Slagboom, leader of this study, said: 'People who live to be a great age metabolise fat and glucose differently, their skin ages more slowly and they have lower prevalence of heart disease, diabetes and hypertension'.

She added: 'Long-lived people do not have fewer disease genes or ageing genes...Instead they have other genes that stop those disease genes from being switched on. Longevity is strongly genetic and inherited'.

Longevity researcher Dr David Gems of University College London, believes that treatments to slow ageing will become widespread: 'Much of the pain and suffering in the world are caused by ageing. If we can find a way to reduce that, then we are morally obliged to take it', he said

Drug companies are already targeting the CETP gene to help prevent heart disease. The US drug maker Merck & Co, for example, has a CETP drug in late-stage clinical trials to test its effectiveness in raising good cholesterol, according to Toronto News.


Found: genes that let you live to 100
The Times | 16 May 2010
The Mail | 16 May 2010
Scientists decode genes that cause ageing
The Times of India | 17 May 2010


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Analysis of person's DNA when they are still young could provide important clues about how long they will live, if a study on zebra finches is anything to go by. Research shows that the best indicator of the birds' longevity is the length of a section of genetic code at the end of their chromosomes, called the telomere... [Read More]
03 October 2011 - by Dr Louisa Petchey 
A gene associated with increased lifespan in a number of organisms is now thought to have no effect on longevity after a second look revealed significant flaws in the original studies on which the assumptions were based. The findings will disappoint the manufacturers of many anti-ageing creams that claim to work by activating the gene, but are unlikely to put a stop to research... [Read More]
27 June 2011 - by Julianna Photopoulos 
A saliva sample can determine a person’s age to within five years, according to research published in the journal PLoS One... [Read More]
23 May 2011 - by Mehmet Fidanboylu 
Scientists claim they have developed a blood test that can predict how fast a person is ageing. The test, developed in Spain, is set to be available in the UK soon.... [Read More]
16 May 2011 - by Dr Lux Fatimathas 
US researchers claim women who give birth to twins live longer than those who give birth to single babies. They speculate that the ability to successfully birth twins reflects a general biological robustness in the health of these women. A twin pregnancy is known to be more taxing on the mother's body and therefore was not thought to be biologically advantageous.... [Read More]

12 April 2010 - by Ailsa Stevens 
Three new gene variants have been linked to increased risk of brain aneurysms in the largest ever genome-wide study of its kind. The discovery brings the total number of gene variants linked to the condition up to five and paves the way for more targeted drug treatments and early screening tests... [Read More]
22 November 2009 - by Sarah Guy 
Scientists have discovered among a group of very elderly Jews that their longevity could be due to a mutant enzyme which stops cells ageing. Researchers at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine in the USA studied 86 Ashkenazi Jews with an average age of 97, as well as 175 of their children, and 93 'control' patients whose parents had had an average lifespan.... [Read More]
15 November 2009 - by Dr Jay Stone 
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, US have discovered that a gene called Bak contributes to age related hearing loss (AHL). Their findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, report that deleting the gene in mice appears to save the hair cells, resulting in fewer hearing defects.... [Read More]

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