12 Genetic Loci Associated with Human Healthspan

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Yurii Aulchenko Co-founder and Chief Scientist of PolyOmica

Yurii Aulchenko

Yurii Aulchenko Co-founder and Chief Scientist of PolyOmica
PolyOmica is a research & development company providing services and tools for quantitative genetics and functional genomics.

Peter Fedichev Founder and Chief Science Officer of Gero

Peter Fedichev

Peter Fedichev Founder and Chief Science Officer of Gero
Gero is a data-driven longevity company developing innovative therapies that will strongly extend the healthy period of life also known as healthspan

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Peter Fedichev, Gero: Age is the most important risk factor behind age-related diseases and death. Lifespan has increased quite dramatically over the last 150-200 years mostly due to the eradication of early-life mortality. What we find, however, is that the healthspan, understood as the chronic diseases-free period, is also on the rise, but not so much. It appears that lifespan is modifiable by interventions, at least in lab animals. It is therefore crucial to understand if the biology behind human healthspan. Is it the same as that of lifespan? What are the molecular pathways and genetic factors controlling the healthspan? At the end, we would like to develop interventions that extend not only lifespan, but also the healthspan. Everyone wants to stay healthy!

Yurii Aulchenko, PolyOmica: We studied the incidence of the most prevalent age-related diseases in the large UK Biobank, one of the best repositories of biologically and medically relevant data from a very large cohort of aging individuals. We observed that the incidence (the chances of) all the major diseases increased exponentially with age. The diseases risk doubling time was about eight years, same as the mortality doubling time from the Gompertz mortality law, discovered as early as in 1825 and used in life insurance ever since. The similar patterns of age-dependent risk acceleration suggest a major common driver behind the diseases, that is most plausibly aging itself.

Peter Fedichev, Gero: The incidence of the diseases could, therefore, be used as a biomarker of aging process. We used the age at the onset of the first age-related disease (the end of healthspan) as the target for a genome-wide association study (GWAS) and identified as many as 12 genetic loci associated with human healthspan. Continue reading