Test For Longevity Genes Coming Soon

By analyzing the DNA of the world's oldest people, Boston University scientists said Thursday they have discovered a genetic signature of longevity. 

The researchers, who studied more than 1,000 people over the age of 100, identified a set of 150 unique genetic markers that, taken together, are linked to extreme longevity.

The researchers said they had no plans to patent the technique nor profit from it. Instead, they expect to make a free test kit available on the Internet later this month to foster longevity research.

The test might reveal more than some people would like to know, the BU scientists warned. Genetic testing often reveals tantalizing but incomplete information, and it's sometimes difficult to know how to respond. People with genes for extreme longevity could face a series of difficult decisions about their careers, retirement savings, insurance coverage, medical treatments and marriages in old age.

"I don't think people are ready for this from a social point of view," said BU geriatrician Thomas Perls, the other lead researcher. "But I don't think that will stop companies from trying to market this."

See this video from the Wall Street Journal as Stefanie Ilgenfritz discusses the discovery of a new genetic signature for human longevity which could lead to a test that reveals who is likely to live to a ripe old age.