November 2, 2010

Einstein Launches To Spotlight Aging Research

Website focuses on genetic links to healthy aging

Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University has launched, a new website that features the latest information on more than a decade of aging research at Einstein.

The website highlights the work of Nir Barzilai, M.D., director of the Institute for Aging Research and a team of researchers, coordinators and volunteers who, in 1998, began a study of healthy elderly between the ages of 95 and 112 years old. The group was enrolled in a study called the Longevity Genes Project. That research has grown into the LonGenity research study, which focuses on examining the genes of the very old. To date, the LonGenity research team has enrolled more than 500 centenarians and near-centenarians, and more than 700 of their children. features video profiles of remarkable centenarians and near-centenarians who are taking part in the study, including 96-year-old Lilly Port who continues to travel the world; 104-year-old Irving Kahn, who works every day managing assets at his $700 million investment firm; 103-year-old Irma Daniel, who exercises and maintains an active social life; and 98-year-old Harold Laufman, a talented artist, musician and retired surgeon.

"The goal of the Longevity Genes Project is to understand how centenarians live so long," said Dr. Barzilai. "What is it in their genetic makeup that allows them to get to this age and remain healthy?"

The research is beginning to unlock the genetic code for longevity and identify the unique genotypes and phenotypes that protect against age-related diseases. Among the findings to date:

    * the identification of at least three genes thought to promote longevity;
    * evidence that longevity is highly likely to be inherited from generation to generation; and
    * the finding that those with exceptional longevity are more likely to have significantly elevated levels of HDL or "good" cholesterol.

The combination of these factors is believed to play a key role in the ability of these "super agers" to avoid cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and high blood pressure.

As the study continues, Einstein researchers are hoping to better understand how protective or harmful genes are activated, or "turned on" or "turned off." This could lead to drug therapies that regulate gene expression and help people live longer, healthier lives by mimicking the beneficial effects of longevity genes.


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