Doubts raised about study that 'unlocked' genetics of a long life

Serious concerns have been raised about a study into the genetics of ageing published earlier this year which suggested that it may soon be possible to test people to see whether they are likely to live to 100.

Other scientists have voiced technical doubts about the way the researchers came to their main conclusion that they could predict whether someone is likely to become a centenarian with an accuracy of 77 per cent.

The journal Science, which published the study in July, has now issued an unprecedented "editorial expression of concern" about the scientific paper by Boston's University's Paola Sebastiani, professor of biostatistics, and Thomas Perls, associate professor of medicine.

Other researchers involved in similar studies where entire genomes are scanned by sophisticated "gene chips" have pointed out that one of the chips used in the study, called the 610-quad array, can under certain circumstances produce experimental artifacts that could result in skewed data.

"Science and the authors are taking these concerns seriously. Since learning of these potential problems, Sebastiani et al have been performing a thorough quality-control analysis of the raw data, as well as generating new data to compare the genotype calls from the 610-quad array and the other platforms within the same individuals. These steps aim to eliminate biases between platforms," Science said.

The Boston team scanned the genomes of more than 1,000 centenarians with the controversial gene chip to see if these individuals possessed any genetic variants, called single-nucleotide polymorphisms, that could be linked with the fact that they have lived to an extremely old age.

In the study published in July in Science, the scientists said they had identified 150 single-nucleotide polymorphisms, or mutations, that could be used to predict whether a person is likely to live to 100 with an accuracy of 77 per cent. The researchers also reported that they had discovered that 45 per cent of the oldest centenarians, those over the age of 110, had a genetic signature with the highest proportion of longevity-associated mutations.

These figures are now likely to be revised, Professor Perls told The Independent. "We've taken the letter of concern very seriously and done a lot of work to produce a clean, validated set of data, and we've been in the process of reperforming the analyses with this clean data set," he said.

Asked whether it is likely that the July study will now be retracted, which is the ultimate sanction for a scientific journal, Professor Perls said: "I certainly hope not. We've done a huge amount of work to make the case that these findings are still holding true... We've had an independent lab go into everything and we've put a huge amount of work into this."

It is likely that Science will make a final decision on whether to publish a correction or issue a full retraction before the end of the year.

News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
people
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant We are curr...

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments