U.S scientists at Boston University have reported that they can predict the longevity of a person through a new blood test.
With up to 85 percent accuracy, the newly-developed test has been created through studying the DNA of 801 centenarians in conjunction with a control group of 914 'healthy' people. Through their analysis, 281 genetic varieties have been identified in the centenarian group. The complex formula identified particular genes in an attempt to ascertain which genetic variants could contribute to unusual longevity in humans.
By discovering these genetic markers, the researchers were able to formulate a test to predict whether people would live beyond 100 by a rate of 60 to 85 percent accuracy. The test may explain why unusually long lives tend to run in families, despite lifestyle choices such as diet, smoking and exercise -- which would normally be considered to contribute to various lifespans.
Dr. Perls, a Boston Medical Center geriatrician suggested:
"This is a useful step towards meaningful predictive medicine and personal genomics. When people can do this kind of analysis on whole genome sequences for traits that have important genetic components, the predictive value should be even better."
In terms of age-related conditions, such as dementia and heart failure, this new medical development could be useful to scientists hoping to discover new treatments.
Originally published in the journal PLoS ONE in July 2010, the study was later restricted due to the accuracy of the data. After peer review by Yale University academics, the research that is now once again public is the corrected version. An additional data set of participants with an average age of 107 is included in the new paper.
The test's accuracy is reported to increase in relation to the age of the participant -- the older they are, the narrower the inaccuracy rates become when predicting their potential lifespan.
This kind of research may contribute to degenerative disease understanding and potential curation in the future. By understanding more about age-related disease, our pharmacopoeia could expand to illnesses that we currently have little means of treating. Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at Kings College London, said:
"The big news is is that there is not one gene for ageing, it is literally hundreds of genes and some might be inherited in clusters but we do not yet know how they work. If we can work it out then there is the possibility of anti-ageing therapies."
To view the full study, click here.
Image credit: Saint Louis University Madrid Campus/ Flickr
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