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New test could predict age at death

Monday July 5th 2010

People could soon find out if they can expect to live to 100 by taking a genetic test, it has been reported.

Extreme long life can be predicted with an accuracy of 77% using a set of genetic fingerprints identified by scientists. Although there are concerns about the social implications, scientists believe private companies will use the information to create a longevity test.

The 150 genetic variants have been found in those who live into their late 90s or beyond with notably little disability. They appear to counteract the influence of genes linked to age-related conditions like Alzheimer's and heart disease which can shorten life.

However, an "elixir of life" drug cocktail is unlikely because the biological pathways involved are complex and yet to be understood. But with the scientific data in the public domain, it may not be long before someone produces a "DNA chip" test for the long-life variants.

A student involved in the study is already working on a scientific website that can be used by anyone with access to their genetic code. It will analyse the genetic data to calculate the chances of longevity, and provide advice on how to interpret the results.

Copyright © Press Association 2010

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