The Secret of Longevity?
Apparently, genes, according to scientists at Stanford University and the University of Bologna.
Genetic studies so far have only identified a single gene (APOE, known to be involved in Alzheimer’s disease) that is different in centenarians versus normal agers.
To find the additional longevity genes, the authors first developed a new statistical method called informed GWAS (genome-wide association studies), which uses knowledge from 14 diseases to narrow down the search genes associated with longevity.
Using iGWAS, the scientists found eight SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms — molecular variations at different locations on the gene) that are significant for the centenarians they studied, and they were able to validate four of these in replication studies of long-lived subjects.
The four “longevity loci” (gene locations) along with the APOE gene may provide clues about physiological mechanisms for successful aging. These loci are known to be involved in various processes including cell senescence, autoimmunity, and cell signaling, and also with Alzheimer’s disease.
Future work may lead to a better understanding of how these genes promote successful aging and could identify additional longevity genes by recruiting more centenarians for analysis.
Robert Heinlein came to pretty much the same conclusion in his 1941 classic Methuselah's Children, in which he introduces his Howard Families, the long-lived.
"The first offspring resulting from unions assisted by the Howard Foundation were born in 1875.
They aroused no comment, for they were in no way remarkable. The Foundation was an openlychartered
On March 17, 1874, Ira Johnson, medical student, sat in the law offices of Deems, Wingate, Alden,
& Deems and listened to an unusual proposition. At last he interrupted the senior partner. "Just a
moment! Do I understand that you are trying to hire me to marry one of these women?"
The lawyer looked shocked. "Please, Mr. Johnson. Not at all"
"Well, it certainly sounded like it."
"No, no, such a contract would be void, against public policy. We are simply informing you, as
administrators of a trust, that should it come about that you do marry one of the young ladies on this list
it would then be our pleasant duty to endow each child of such a union according to the scale here set
forth. But there would be no Contract with us involved, nor is there any 'proposition' being made to youand
we certainly do not urge any course of action on you. We are simply informing you of certain facts."
Ira Johnson scowled and shuffled his feet. "What's it all about? Why?"
"That is the business of the Foundation. One might put it that we approve of your grandparents."
"Have you discussed me with them?" Johnson said sharply.
He felt no affection for his grandparents. A tight-fisted foursome-if any one of them had had the
grace to die at a reasonable age he would not now be worried about money enough to finish medical
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