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Genes that let people live to 100 'found'

The fountain of youth could be a reality someday, for scientists claim to have discovered the genes which can let people live to 100 -- even if they are not health conscious.

world Updated: May 16, 2010 12:23 IST

The fountain of youth could be a reality someday, for scientists claim to have discovered the genes which can let people live to 100 -- even if they are not health conscious.

A team at Leiden University has found that the genes called "Methuselah" can protect people against the effects of smoking and bad diet, and can also delay onset of age-related illnesses like cancer and heart disease by upto three decades.

According to the scientists, who have based their findings on an analysis of new studies of centenarians and their families, the secret of longevity lies in having the right "suite" of genes -- however, such combinations are rare as only one person in 10,000 reaches the age of 100.

"Long-lived people do not have fewer disease genes or ageing genes. Instead they have other genes that stop those disease genes from being switched on. Longevity is strongly genetic and inherited," lead scientist Eline Slagboom was quoted by The Sunday Times as saying.

"People who live to a great age metabolise fats and glucose differently, their skin ages more slowly and they have lower prevalence of heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. These factors are all under strong genetic control, so we see the same features in children of very old people," she added.

The "Methuselah" genes -- named after the biblical patriarch who lived to 969 -- are thought to include ADIPOQ, which is found in about 10 per cent of young people but in 30 per cent of people living past 100. (MORE)