Scientists discover longevity gene

New York: A gene variation that helps people live long lives also protects their memories and their ability to think and learn, say researchers from the US Institute of Aging Research.

The Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York carried out a study of 282 older Ashkenazi Jews whose ancestors came from northern Europe found that those who had the gene variant were twice as likely to have good brain function as those who did not. The study looked at 158 people 95 and older and 124 people between the ages of 75 and 85.

The team discovered that the variant increases the size of cholesterol particles in the blood, making them much less likely to lodge in blood-vessel linings and cause heart attacks and strokes. They also thought the altered gene may protect against the development of Alzheimer’s disease, although they are not sure how it does so.

The report published in the Journal of Neurology says that scientists are currently trying to develop drugs to mimic the effect of the gene variation for people who don’t possess it.