A team led by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University has found a clear link between living to 100 and inheriting a hyperactive version of an enzyme that rebuilds telomeres — the tip ends of chromosomes. The findings appear in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
The researchers found that participants who have lived to a very old age have inherited mutant genes that make their telomerase-making system extra active and able to maintain telomere length more effectively. For the most part, these people were spared age-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, which cause most deaths among elderly people.
Genetic Variation in Human Telomerase is Associated with Telomere Length in Ashkenazi Centenarians Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, November 9, 2009