What’s the Secret to ‘Extreme Longevity’?

Nov. 14, 2014

3 Bullets:

  • ISB researchers and their collaborators studied a group of supercentenarians (110 years or older) to explore the genetics of ‘extreme longevity.’
  • The group performed whole-genome sequencing on 17 supercentenarians in order to look for any rare protein-altering variants associated with extreme longevity.
  • While the researchers did not find a single cause for extreme longevity within this sample size, the genomic data is now available for future studies.

The secret to “extreme longevity” is still a secret.

ISB researchers in the Family Genomics Group and their collaborators at Standford University, University of California Los Angeles, and the Gerontology Research Group in Los Angeles, studied a group of 17 supercentenarians (110 years or older) in hopes of discovering the genetic basis for their extreme longevity. The researchers performed whole genome sequencing of the participants in order to look for significant enrichment of rare protein-altering variants.

The results ultimately showed no significant evidence of a single cause for extreme longevity – at least not within the sample size of 17. One point of interest was that one of the supercentenarians carried a variant considered to be highly pathogenic; a variant that according to recommendations from the American College of Medical Genetics must be reported if found in someone’s genome. But this variant clearly didn’t cause any disease in this individual.

The data from the study, which includes the DNA sequences and the list of rare protein-altering variants of the 17 supercentenarians, is now available for future research on extreme longevity.

Title: Whole-Genome Sequencing of the World’s Oldest People
Journal: PLOS ONE
Authors: Hinco J. Gierman, Kristen Fortney, Jared C. Roach, Natalie S. Coles, Hong Li, Gustavo Glusman, Glenn J. Markov, Justin D. Smith, Leroy Hood, L. Stephen Coles, Stuart K. Kim
Link: Read the study
Quote: “Supercentenarians (110 years or older) are the world’s oldest people. Seventy four are alive worldwide, with twenty two in the United States.”