"Wellderly" and "Illderly" study

1 minute read

I meant to point out this news article when it came out earlier this month. It’s a short description of a Scripps-Venter initiative to sequence 2000 healthy 80+-year-olds:

We are looking at a cohort that we think is harbouring major secrets. They have disease susceptibility genes, but they don't get the diseases you would have expected. Something has protected them. We hope to find out what that is, says study leader Eric Topol, who is director of genomic medicine at Scripps.
Topol and his team will compare gene sequences from their subjects with the same genes in tissues from a control group they've dubbed the 'illderly'. This second group covers people who died from common, age-related diseases such as cancer, heart attack and stroke before they made it to 80.
Topol and his colleagues Robert Strausberg and Samuel Levy at the Venter Institute finalized their list of 100 candidate genes last week. It includes genes with an unknown or putative role in healthy ageing, and some that are involved in key jobs such as DNA repair and the handling of insulin. The team plans to expand the list to 500 genes over several years and ultimately to sequence the whole genomes of their elderly recruits. So far, the affiliated Scripps Health System has provided the bulk of the costs of the study

I really don’t understand why they wouldn’t start out with a SNP-chip survey. Maybe they are, and it’s just not reported here. The sequencing will be more effective at finding individual sites that are not yet part of the standard surveys, but a lot of interesting variants are likely linked to long-range haplotypes anyway.