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Secret to Long Life Stays Hidden

Researchers sequenced some 17 supercentenarians — people over the age of 110 — to try to uncover genetic secrets as to their longevity. But they report in PLOS One this week, they were unable to pinpoint any rare variant that was over-represented in the supercentenarians, as GenomeWeb Daily News notes.

The team led by Stanford University's Stuart Kim did observe enrichment of changes to TSHZ3 in their supercentenarian cohort, but that finding didn't replicate in a follow-up cohort of people aged 98 or older.

"Our hope was that we would find a longevity gene," Kim tells Reuters. "We were pretty disappointed."

Still, Kim adds that there is likely a genetic component to such longevity, but it might not be as simple as a single gene. Twin studies, GWDN points out, have found that the genetic contribution to longevity is about 20 percent to 30 percent, a figure that may be higher in more long-lived families.

"The results indicate that the genetic effect must be complex. It must be many genes, or different genes in each supercentenarian, that gives them the edge to live an extremely long time," Kim says, noting that the supercentenarians didn't have especially healthy eating or good exercise habits.

The Scan

Interfering With Invasive Mussels

The Chicago Tribune reports that researchers are studying whether RNA interference- or CRISPR-based approaches can combat invasive freshwater mussels.

Participation Analysis

A new study finds that women tend to participate less at scientific meetings but that some changes can lead to increased involvement, the Guardian reports.

Right Whales' Decline

A research study plans to use genetic analysis to gain insight into population decline among North American right whales, according to CBC.

Science Papers Tie Rare Mutations to Short Stature, Immunodeficiency; Present Single-Cell Transcriptomics Map

In Science this week: pair of mutations in one gene uncovered in brothers with short stature and immunodeficiency, and more.