Swiss-led research team identifies new life-expectancy markers

Zoltan Kutalik

Geneva–A Swiss-led team conducting research on life expectancy said on Thursday it had identified the largest-ever number of genetic markers that are almost entirely new to science.

The answer to how long each person will live is partly encoded in their genomes or their genetic material, Xinhua quoted the researchers as saying, who published the findings in journal Nature Communication.

Zoltan Kutalik

The study was led by scientists from the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (SIB), Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV), the University of Lausanne and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL).

The study used advanced computer capabilities to uncover the genetics of our time of death and ultimately of any disease.

During the research, the scientists identified 16 genetic markers associated with a decreased lifespan, including 14 that are new to science.

“This is the largest set of markers of lifespan uncovered to date,” said the SIB in the statement.

While the environment in which we live, including our socio-economic status or the food we eat, plays the biggest part in explaining longevity, about 20 to 30 per cent of the variation in human lifespan comes down to genomes.

Changes in particular locations in human DNA sequences, such as single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), could therefore hold some of the keys to longevity say the researchers.

“Until now, the most comprehensive studies had found only two hits in the genome,” said Zoltan Kutalik from SIB.

“About 10 per cent of the population carries some configurations of these markers that shorten their life by over a year compared with the population average,” the SIB said.

The scientists analysed data sets of 116,279 individuals and 2.3 million human SNPs. (IANS)


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