The Broadening Search For Longevity Genes

The MIT Technology Review looks at continued attempts to understand the degree to which present healthy human longevity is influenced by genes: "An ambitious plan to sequence 100 genes in 1,000 healthy old people could shed light on genetic variations that insulate some people from the ailments of aging, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, allowing them to live a healthy life into their eighties and beyond. Rather than focusing on genetic variations that increase risk for disease, scientists plan to focus on genes that have previously been linked to health and longevity. ... advances in genetic screening technologies have allowed scientists to start searching the genome for clues to healthy aging and a lengthy life span. That work has revealed that the genomes of healthy old people are not blemish free. ... These people have genetic susceptibility markers for many serious diseases [but] they don't get any of these diseases. What is the explanation? What might account for their insulation from these diseases?" Genes are not fate - evidence to date suggests that lifestyle choices have much more weight for all but the most genetically unlucky, and those choices are reflected in epigenetic variations, not genetic variations.



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