London: Scientists are working on a blood test which, should one really want to find out, would reveal who will live to be 100.
Researchers identified 281 genetic markers associated with longevity after examining 800 pensioners with an average age of 104 along with a control group of people of all ages.
Many of the pensioners in the study had managed to reach their advanced age despite unhealthy lifestyles.
This led U.S. scientists at Boston School of Medicine to conclude that their genes appeared to “trump” that behaviour.
Using only genetic data, they were able to predict those who had lived past 102 with 71 percent accuracy and beyond 105 with 85 percent accuracy.
“Many of the genes we found have already been associated with Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and free radical damage which plays an important role in age-related diseases,” the Daily Mail quoted Thomas Perls, the lead author as saying.
“That’s very interesting because the evidence we have seen suggests that super-centenarians do not become disabled until they are in their 90s – they seem to delay or avoid age-related diseases.
“Environmental factors are very important in living a long life but beyond the 90s there is an increasingly important genetic component that takes these people above the average,” he said.
Perls’ team scanned the genes of people aged 90 to 119 mainly from the US and Canada, and the control group, using a sophisticated “gene chip”.
According to the authors, living beyond 100 involves a “very complex” genetic mix and cannot be explained by one or two genes alone.
They screened 250,000 tiny genetic variations, called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), before whittling it down to the final 281.
Perls said further studies based on these findings would help scientists better understand why some people manage to avoid disease – and potentially develop new drugs and therapies for diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
It could also help develop blood tests for longevity more accurate than current methods, he said, although conceded telling people they will live a long life could affect their behaviour.
“This is not ready for prime time yet, but I believe the current personal genomics industry which relies on one gene for diabetes or another condition to predict your age is very misleading,” he said.
“Some people have a combination of genetic variants, linked to longevity which appear to trump those linked to disease and makes up for behaviour,” he added.