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Genetic Signatures of Exceptional Longevity ID'd

Researchers construct a genetic model predicting exceptional longevity with 77 percent accuracy

FRIDAY, July 2 (HealthDay News) -- Though environment and family history contribute to living a long life, genetic variants play a critical role in conferring exceptional longevity, according to a report published online July 1 in Science.

Paola Sebastiani, Ph.D., of the Boston University School of Public Health, and colleagues conducted a genome-wide association study of 1,055 centenarians and 1,267 controls to identify genetic traits linked to exceptional longevity.

The researchers constructed a genetic model, including 150 single nucleotide polymorphisms, that could predict exceptional longevity (late 90s or older) with 77 percent accuracy. The researchers also identified 19 genetic clusters that characterized 90 percent of the centenarians studied. Forty-six percent of those aged 110 and older had the highest proportion of the longevity-associated genetic variants. In addition, the different genetic clusters correlated with differences in rates and age of onset of various age-related diseases.

"The 77 percent accuracy of these predictions in an independently recruited sample of centenarians shows that genetic data can indeed predict exceptional longevity without knowledge of any other risk factor. This prediction is not perfect, however, and although it may improve with better knowledge of the variations in the human genome, its limitations confirm that environmental factors (e.g., lifestyle) also contribute in important ways to the ability of humans to survive to very old ages," the authors write.

One study author disclosed owning stock in Elixir Pharmaceuticals, a company that conducts aging research.

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