How can we know how long we will live? The true answer is that we can not do it, but new research from the University of Edinburgh could help give some people a better idea of their planned lifespan. In the recent session of the Society of Human Genetics scientists explain How they have developed a method for estimating whether an individual can live longer or shorter on average. Her approach was to study the effects of genetic variations on lifespan in the human genome.
The largest ever genome-wide life span association study, researchers combined genetic data from more than 500,000 UK Biobank participants and other cohorts with data on the lifetime of the participant's parents. The impact of a single gene on lifespan is low, so this larger sample size was needed to identify the genes that are relevant to our lifespan. This sample helped researchers validate six previously identified associations between specific genes and aging ̵
In addition, the research team found 21 new genomic regions that have an impact on human lifespan. They then used their results to create a polygenic life span risk score. This is a personalized genomic score that estimates the genetic likelihood of a longer life phase.
" Based on a person's genetic information, we can identify the 10 percent of people with the most protective genes, who live on average five years longer than the least protected ten percent," explains Paul Timmers, a doctoral student the University of Edinburgh.
The study also delved into the details of the effects of genetic variants on the aging process, as researchers sought to determine whether certain variants directly affect aging or influence the risk of individual illnesses that could lead to death. They discovered that the genes associated with Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, and smoking-related conditions were associated with overall life-span among the general variants. Interestingly, they found no lifetime associations for other cancers, suggesting that the risk of death from other cancers is due to less common genetic variants or the environment.
"That was an interesting result," says Timmers. "We suspect that the variants we found, such as smoking and Alzheimer's, are solely related to the modern period of human history, for example, a genetic predisposition to smoking was not harmful before we discovered tobacco, but it is now, because natural selection does not have many generations to respond to these variants, the variants are still quite common. "
In the future, researchers plan to investigate how the variants and functional pathways they identify affect the service life.
–  By Connor Ertz Earth.com Staff Writer