Research conducted by George S. Zubenko, MD, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Biological Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh School reported that genes relating to aging with preserved mental capacity have been identified.
This research was the first of its kind and was funded by National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The study analyzed 100 individuals who were ninety years old or above. There were equal number of men and women in the study. These individuals should have not have compromised mental capacity.
Researchers compared their DNA (with the latest genome survey procedure) to those of 100 young individuals (18-25 yrs). Subjects from both groups were seen that they were of similar sex, ethnicity, race and geographical location.
Researchers were identifying genes that were present only in older group which preserved their mental capacity from degenerating. In the other group they were searching for those gene sequences that prevented the younger group from getting older.
The results obtained were that there was increase in the regularity of the APOE E2 allele and a reduced incidence of the APOE E4 allele in the older group. These genes also provide protection against Alzheimer's disease which is the major cause of mental degeneration in the older individuals.
Also genes such as DYS389 and DYS390 associated with ageing in men or in women but not in both were identified.
Men and women differ greatly in their ability to contract disease. Women on an average have longer life span than men. Hence the genes that are related to ageing with preserved mental capacity may also differ in both men and women.
The study also revealed the harmful effects of smoking and alcohol consumption on ageing. Further research is necessary to understand the ageing process thoroughly which will help in increasing the average age in the future.