Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Unlocking the Secret to Long Life

The DNA of a woman who lived to the age of 115 years of age was sequenced. She was the oldest person to have her genes mapped. She was born prematurely with a small chance of survival, but managed to beat the odds and outlive most people. When her mental skills were tested at age 113, she had the mental ability of a woman aged 60-75. Her body was studied post mortem for science. No signs of dementia were seen in her brain, and no signs of heart disease were found either. She somehow managed to evade two of the major diseases that affect people later in life.  She eventually died of a stomach tumor after surviving breast cancer at the age of 100.

 Her longevity and good health are astounding. Researchers hope to find what parts of her genetic makeup contributed to her long life. They suggested that she might have had genetic protection against dementia and other diseases of later life. If scientists discover what genes contributed to her healthy long life, those genes could be studied and used to improve the health of future generations. The gene could possibly be integrated into the human genome. Another possibility would be studying what the gene does in the body and trying to recreate its effects. The DNA of this 115–year-old woman could be a helpful key into the secret of long life.

This is a summary of a BBC article, "DNA sequenced of woman who lived to 115."

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