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Homing in on a longevity gene

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6:17pm, September 11, 2001

Relatives can drive you crazy, but you'd better hope they enjoy long lives. If your family members live long, the chances improve that you will too (SN: 3/10/01, p. 156: Making Sense of Centenarians).

This observation prompted a research team to study the DNA of 137 families with at least two siblings over the age of 91. A region of chromosome 4 harbors a gene that helps people achieve exceptional longevity, the scientists conclude in the Aug. 28 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"There are 100 to 500 genes [in the region], so we now have to home in on the one or two causing the effect," says Thomas Perls of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

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