Why do individuals in certain families live longer than others? Is there a genetic type that will dictate a long life? Recent findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week suggest that this may be the case.
Scientists from Harvard Medical School and Cambridge University worked on the premise that substantial evidence supports the idea that familial aggregation can reveal exceptional longevity. According to the scientists the existence of rare families demonstrating clustering for this phenotype suggest that a genetic etiology may be an important component.
In their recent study the scientists carried out a genome-wide scan for such predisposing loci using 308 individuals belonging to 137 common genetic heritages demonstrating exceptional longevity.
By using nonparametric analysis, significant evidence for linkage was noted for chromosome 4 at D4S1564 with a MLS of 3.65 (P = 0.044). The authors suggest that these linkage results indicate the likelihood that there exists a gene, or genes, that exerts a substantial influence on the ability to achieve exceptional old age.
The scientists hope that if these genes that allow certain individuals to live to an extremely old age are identified this could lead to insights on cellular pathways that are important to the aging process. Perhaps our future will be awash with anti-aging drugs and injections to hold back the wasting effects of age. And who knows, perhaps even sweet tasting anti-ageing nutraceuticals for breakfast. Man's quest for eternal life continues.