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No shortage of dangerous DNA

The genome of a 115-year-old woman is mined for secrets to healthy aging

5:52pm, October 17, 2011

MONTREAL — A Dutch woman who lived to 115 years old credited her longevity to pickled herring, refraining from smoking and limiting alcohol. But scientists are looking to the woman’s genetic blueprints, hoping to uncover the secrets of successful aging.

Any genetic secrets are still buried in the DNA that makes up the woman’s genome, but it has become clear that she did not lack genetic variants that may predispose other people to heart disease, Alzheimer’s and other aging-related illnesses, geneticist Henne Holstege of the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam said October 14 at the International Congress of Human Genetics. Instead, the woman may have carried variants that protected her from the ravages of age.

What those protective variants might be remain a mystery. “We cannot say anything about the genome pieces that have to do with longevity,” Holstege said. The researchers will have to compare the woman’s genetic m

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