Scientists Discover Longevity-Predicting GenesS

Scientists have analyzed the DNA of geriatric New Englanders and believe they have discovered the genetic markers that predict extreme longevity. And because you are morbidly curious, you will soon be able to test yourself for those markers!

Most people in the U.S. live to be around 80 or 85. These people are called "weaklings," and they are preyed upon by the super-long-lived, who have been given the name "wellderly" by someone who hates the English language. Such "wellderly" can live well past 100 (the oldest recorded person lived to 122), "often free of mental and physical ailments," except for the ailment of Not Being Able to Figure Out How To Use The Computer.

Now, a group of Boston University researchers say they've figured out 150 "unique genetic markers" (out of millions) that can help separate the wellderly from the early-to-die, an important step in making Soylent Green learning more about the aging process in humans.

In research published online Thursday by the journal Science, Dr. Sebastiani, Dr. Perls and their colleagues studied variations in the biochemical code of DNA drawn from members of the New England Centenarian Study, considered the world's largest comprehensive study of these long-lived people and their families.

The scientists compared the genetic makeup of these centenarians with people who lived more average life spans. The genetic markers they found are scattered across the entire three billion DNA characters of the human genome and touch on at least 70 known genes. Depending on personal habits, diet, injuries, accidents and other factors, these genes boost an individual's chances of survival in the lottery of life, the scientists reported.

The information allowed the BU researchers to identify those predisposed to exceptional longevity with 77% accuracy in controlled tests, they reported.

The markers have only been identified, and scientists are still unsure exactly how they affect the aging process. But eventually, researchers may be looking for ways to affect those genes, and create a super-race of geriatrics.

Creeped out by how much scientists can tell about you given your genetic structure? Too bad! This is how basically all science will be done, from here on out. In fact, if you want to check in and see whether you've got the übermensch gene, the BU team is going to make a free test available on the New England Centenarian Study's website.

[WSJ]