Saturday, March 16, 2013

May Your Telomeres Live Long and Prosper

This past weekend, an article from ScienceDaily reports that researchers from the Intermountain Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City conducted a study that can predict survival rates among patients with heart disease based on the length of strands of DNA found on their telomeres. Basically, their findings state that the longer the patient's telomeres, the greater the chance of living a longer life.

John Carlquist, PhD, director of the Intermountain Heart Institute Genetics Lab, and his colleagues tested DNA samples from more than 3,500 heart attack and stroke patients. Dr. Carlquist stated that,
"Our research shows that if we statistically adjust for age, patients with longer telomeres live longer, suggesting that telomere length is more than just a measure of age, but may also indicate the probability for survival.” He goes on to say, "I believe telomere length could be used in the future as a way to measure the effectiveness of heart care treatment."

The researchers had two unique resources available to them. First, an archive of peripheral blood DNA samples collected from almost 30,000 heart patients, with as much as 20 years of follow-up clinical and survival data. Second, the opportunity to work with international experts that included Richard Cawthon, MD, PhD, a world-known expert on telomere measurement and function.

The institute’s studies were presented at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session in San Francisco on March 9. Further related research on the relationship between telomeres and longevity in mammals can also be found at ScienceDaily.

I have known that genetically the death of an organism will occur over a long period of time as the DNA replicates less and less of its self. I did not know that the telomeres were the culprit of this. I wonder though if there is a way to not only use the telomeres to measure age or the probability of survival but maintain their integrity to enhance longevity. After all, who doesn’t want to live forever? I sure do.

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