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Science: Researchers uncovered Methuselah genes. The genes are responsible for a long life.
(04.07.2010) Researchers have succeeded for the first time in discovering so-called Methuselah genes, which are responsible for a long life of humans. It should be possible to use certain gene variants to determine how old a person can get. The results of the study were published in the scientific journal "Science".
It is not just a healthy lifestyle that is responsible for a long life. A study by scientists from the USA has succeeded in finding certain genes that are responsible for the aging process in humans. The researchers at "Boston University" examined the genes of around one thousand 100-year-old study participants. The scientists came across so-called Methuselah genes, which can very likely be used to predict old age. Around 90 percent of the test persons were able to identify gene variants in which these genes were present. There are exactly 19 special genes that are considered an indication of a long life. The oldest test subject was 110 years old, and the researchers found a particularly large number of genetic abnormalities that indicated longevity.
The background to decoding the gene variations is the planned use of personalized drugs. Biostatistics professor Thomas Pearls said that deciphering the "Methuselah genes" could pave the way for personalized genetic research and medical care with a prognostic character. This means that drugs should be "tailored" to the patient in the future However, the study has only taken a small step in this direction, and the research results could also help in the prevention of certain illnesses, because the study was able to find new insights into the interaction of the aging process and illnesses Age-related diseases such as dementia, Parkinson's or Alzheimer's break out much later with the Methuselah genes, and the genes found in the test subjects protect against the diseases of old age, so to speak.
On average, women are significantly older than men. The current life expectancy in the industrialized nations is 82 years for women, for men an average of 76 years. Among the oldest registered people in the world who are over 110 years old, there are 75 women, but only two men. The life expectancy of people is also increasing continuously. Researchers believe that many children born in the rich industrialized world today can live well over 100 years. But whoever believes that a long life is absolutely predetermined due to these gene variants is wrong. The researchers explicitly pointed out that, of course, a healthy lifestyle is important. Environmental factors are also of great importance. (sb)