Thursday, 8 July 2010

Is Longevity Genetic?

A study published last week in the journal Science showing 150 genetic variants associated with extreme longevity received a lot of attention in the popular press.

I was skeptical about the findings, they looked too good. Now further investigation is surfacing the problems.

Newsweek has an article exploring some of the technical problems relating to the DNA chip used, manufactured by Illumina, the same company that manufactures the chip used by 23andMe, and condeming lax editorial review on the journal's part ... www.newsweekinteractive.net/2010/07/07/the-little-flaw-in-the-longevity-gene-study-that-could-be-a-big-problem.html?from=rss.

23andMe also posted on the company Spittoon blog Uncertainty Surrounds Longevity GWAS http://spittoon.23andme.com/2010/07/07/snpwatch-uncertainty-surrounds-longevity-gwas/.
The posting sumarizes a study the company conducted using its own customer base to see if they could replicate Science paper results and conclude that "based on our data, performance of this (the Science article) model is not significantly better than random."

Genetics is making amazing contributions to health and genealogy studies. Without DNA evidence genealogical studies may be nothing but documentary mythology, but neither should DNA evidence ever be taken uncritically.

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