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Life Insurer GWG Acquires Rights to Epigenetic Mortality Predictor Tech

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – GWG Holdings, the parent company of life insurance firm GWG Life, announced today that it has exclusively licensed technology from the University of California, Los Angeles, related to the use of epigenetic markers to predict life expectancy.

The technology is based on the work of UCLA's Steve Horvath, who has shown that DNA methylation age, measured in blood, could predict all-cause mortality later in life, independent of health status, lifestyle, and known genetic factors.

In November, GWG optioned the technology — which measures the methylation of certain CpG sites as markers of biological aging — so GWG Life could develop it as a method for generating more accurate life expectancy projections. Earlier this year, GWG Life began collecting and analyzing epigenetic data from policyholders selling their life insurance.

GWG has now exercised its option, picking up the exclusive rights to the technology for use in life insurance and related industries. Additional terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"Even though we've only scratched the surface, epigenetics are already showing much more promise for assessing human health than merely looking at the genetic sequence," Brian Chen, vice president of research and analytics at GWG Life and Horvath collaborator, said in a statement.