nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Live To 100 If You Have The Right 150 Genes

 
Nothing useful here, just interesting...

My great grandfather lived to be 104.  My family always emphasized that we were born on the same day (day and month, obviously, not year).  As a result, I have this mythological belief from childhood that my fate will mirror his.

The bad news is he was basically demented for the last 10 years.  Not my idea of a fun time.

But scientists have been looking at a subset of centenarians (Science, July 1)--those who appear resistant to chronic or progressive diseases.  While this group lives to be over a hundred, they don't seem to fall prey to those degenerative problems that other long-lived people do.

We're talking about being 100 or more, AND being "spry" and mentally sharp.  How does that come about?

So some researchers looked at the genes of about 1200 centenarians and a matched group of controls.  They found 150 single-nucleotide polymorphisms among the "healthy" group...which is jargon for tiny changes to each of the genes.  For info on the technology, go here.

Piece of cake, right?   Just have the right 150 among the 50,000 human genes (a guess, nobody knows the real answer).  BUT, each of those 150 genes has multiple other variations....well, you can do the math even if--like me--you didn't take an advanced probability course in college:  Basically, multiply all these by each other to get the odds on winning the "extreme longevity" (EL.  Yes, it even has an acronym) lottery.

I don't think I make it into this category.  But, I could mix things up by exposing my body to more gene-damaging chemicals.  Who knows?  The damaged genes could be changed in a "good" way, just as often as a "bad" way, right?  It will either kill me earlier, or let me live longer...I could hit that 1 in 50 million jackpot.

Sarcasm aside, we're still on the merest threshold of learning about the genetic components of aging.  Even the method used in this study is open to question.

My prescription for aging is useful activity, dietary moderation, and rest.  Magic potions, mystical powers, and being One-with-Nature are for the gullible.

Doc D
 
 

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