Washington: Researchers have found a pattern of genes that predicts with more accuracy than ever before who might live to be 100 or older -- even if they have other genes linked with disease.
Their findings, published in Friday`s issue of the journal Science, offer the tantalizing possibility of predicting who might hope for a longer life. They also cast doubt on the accuracy of tests being marketed now that offer to predict a person`s risk of chronic diseases such as Alzheimer`s.
Several teams of researchers have identified gene patterns linked with extreme old age. But the researchers led by Paola Sebastiani and Dr. Thomas Perls at Boston University say theirs provides the best accuracy yet.
They studied more than 1,000 people who lived to be 100 or more and matched them to 1,200 other people to identify the genetic patterns more common in the 100-year-olds using an approach called a genome-wide association study
To their surprise, the longest-lived people had many of the same genes linked with diseases as everyone else. Their old-age genes appeared to cancel out the effects of the disease genes.
"A lot of people might ask, `well who would want to live to 100 because they think they have every age-related disease under the sun and are on death`s doorstep, and certainly have Alzheimer`s`, but this isn`t true," Perls told reporters in a telephone briefing.
"We have noted in previous work that 90 percent of centenarians are disability-free at the average age of 93. We had long hypothesized that to get to 100 you have to have a relative lack of disease-associated variants. But in this case, we`re finding that not to be the case."