January 19, 2012
BU Researchers Identify Genetic Signatures Of Exceptional Longevity In Re-Published Study
While environment and family history are factors in healthy aging, genetic variants play a critical and complex role in conferring exceptional longevity, according to researchers from the Boston University Schools of Public Health and Medicine, Boston Medical Center, IRCCS Multimedica in Milan, Italy, and Yale University.
Published in PLoS ONE, after peer review, the research findings are the corrected version of work originally published in Science in July 2010. The revised publication includes additional authors who independently assessed and helped to produce a valid genotype data set, for which the same analysis as in the original paper was performed. It also contains an additional replication data set of subjects with an average age of 107.
"This is a useful step towards meaningful predictive medicine and personal genomics," said Dr. Perls, a geriatrician at Boston Medical Center. "When people can do this kind of analysis on whole genome sequences for traits that have important genetic components, the predictive value should be even better."
The new study differs from the earlier study, voluntarily retracted by the authors, in several ways: A select group of faulty SNPs was eliminated from this study ;an additional sample of extremely old study subjects was added; and researchers from Yale University were called in to independently validate the data and methodology. The corrected study, as did the original, found that subjects who shared the same profile of variations for genetic markers in the model appeared to share similar levels of risk for various traits or diseases associated with exceptional longevity -- most notably, in their ages of survival. "Further study of these genetic characteristics may yield a better understanding of the genetic and biological bases of delaying or escaping age-related diseases and achieving longer survival," Dr. Perls said."The novel approach to genetic data that is described here is likely applicable to other complex inherited traits, and we look forward to other research groups applying these methods to their data."
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