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.
See here for more discussion.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Return Of The Longevity Gene Set: Its Unproven....D-oh!

A week ago I wrote a satirical piece on a study that attempted to identify the gene mix that would lead to a person living over 100 years.

I wasn't the only one to be skeptical:  the study kicked off a flurry of discussion (LA Times, July 8)among some scientists who also have their doubts.  Their criticism was more pointed than mine, centering on the method used, and the data analysis.

Two things I didn't notice:
1.  The researchers used a DNA analysis product that became unavailable in the middle of the study, and had to switch to another product.  This raises the question of whether the first half is comparable to the second half.  There were other issues of this type where samples were handled differently.
2.  The graph of the genes that are associated with healthy longevity show a lot of "scatter".  They don't line up nicely along the length of the entire set of human genes.  By comparison with graphs that show specific gene sites associated with certain diseases, the longevity pattern looks random.  Go to the Genetic Future blog to see the comparison graphs.

So what seemed implausible to me on its face has some more specific flaws in the science.

The Promise of Genetic Research is sometimes over-sold.  The reaction to this piece of gene inquiry should be a lesson not to run out and do... anything.

I.e., don't count your genes before they hatch.

Doc D

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