13th November 2014
Genomes of the world's oldest people are published
The genomes from 17 of the oldest people have been published. Researchers were unable to find genes associated with extreme longevity.
Supercentenarians are the world's oldest people, living beyond 110 years of age. There are 74 alive worldwide, with 22 in the USA. The longest confirmed human lifespan on record is that of Jeanne Calment (1875–1997), a French woman who reached 122 years and 164 days. The oldest person alive today is Misao Okawa, a Japanese woman aged 116. She is the last living Japanese person to have been born during the 1800s.
In a study published yesterday by the journal PLOS ONE, whole-genome sequencing was performed on 17 supercentenarians to explore the genetic basis underlying extreme human longevity. The researchers – Hinco Gierman and colleagues from Stanford University – were unable to find any rare protein-altering variants significantly associated with extreme longevity compared to control genomes. However, they did find that one supercentenarian carries a variant associated with a heart condition, which had little or no effect on his/her health, as this person lived over 110 years. The authors say it is recommended by the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics to report the results to this individual as an incidental finding.
Although the authors didn't find significant association with extreme longevity, they have publicly published the genomes, making them available as a resource for future studies on longevity.