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Medicine Science

DNA Sequenced of Woman Who Lived To 115 175

chrb writes "The DNA of W115 — an anonymous woman who lived to the age of 115 years and left her body to science — has been sequenced. Despite her old age, W115 showed no signs of dementia or heart disease, and tests at the age of 113 showed she had the mental abilities of a woman aged 60-75 years. Dr. Henne Holstege of the Department of Clinical Genetics at the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam has suggested W115 had rare genetic changes in her DNA which protected against Alzheimer's and other late-life diseases."
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DNA Sequenced of Woman Who Lived To 115

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  • Hopefully (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Totenglocke ( 1291680 ) on Sunday October 16, 2011 @02:22AM (#37728648)
    Hopefully this leads to people being able to have their DNA modified so that we no longer have to deal with mental diseases like Alzheimer's.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by tirefire ( 724526 )

      Hopefully this leads to people being able to have their DNA modified so that we no longer have to deal with mental diseases like Alzheimer's.

      And once a precedent has been set, it's just 20 precious years until GATTACA.

      • by mercnet ( 691993 )
        "I belonged to a new underclass, no longer determined by social status or the color of your skin. No, we now have discrimination down to a science."
    • Yeah, what could possibly go wrong? I mean, it's totally impossible that those people might turn into flesh-eating zombies. Isn't it? Isn't it?!
    • Hopefully this leads to people being able to have their DNA modified so that those who can pay no longer have to deal with mental diseases like Alzheimer's.

      FTFY. Well, I don't agree with the "hopefully" either.

      • One of the best ways of inserting a gene into an animal cell is with a virus. Many types of bacteria can accept free floating DNA. DNA for a virus is introduced but modified so that instead of DNA to make more viruses, the virus contains the gene to be inserted. You just need to keep feeding the bacteria for an infinite supply.
    • Re:Hopefully (Score:4, Insightful)

      by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Sunday October 16, 2011 @03:57AM (#37728932) Journal

      That's a lame hope...

      I hope we find the underlying cause and determine that simple dietary and behavioral changes will make such diseases fleetingly rare.

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        Better than a naive hope, I'd say. Maybe you can tweak the percentages here and there but with all the diets and behavioral regimes people have tried we'd know if anything made you almost impervious to disease. Of course it helps to be generally fit but for the most part we need treatments, not just regular exercise and eating our vegetables. I have a friend who was diagnosed with cancer at age 16, never drunk, never smoked, excellent health. He needed a treatment for cancer, not just generally good advice.

        • We don't do double blind 100 year studies, and without knowing the underlying cause, any foods, medication, procedure (pre or post natal) could be causing dramatically increased risk, and the cause and effect would be so far separate we'd never pick up on it.

          Your own premise is belied by the vast amount of human history before germ theory was concieved, after untold large scale human suffering.

          • Re:Hopefully (Score:5, Interesting)

            by houghi ( 78078 ) on Sunday October 16, 2011 @05:57AM (#37729272)

            Her mother became 99 and 10 months. A brother and sister also became pretty old. Not sure what happened to another sister. My father is in his 90-ies and behaves like a 65 year old. We are directly related to her. She was my grand-fathers sister.

            For that reason I have contacted the doctor to ask him how I (and my father agreed to do the same) could be able to help. e.g. by giving some blood so they can see after we die if there was anything there. She did not have any children herself, so for now all we know is that she might have been the only person with that part of DNA.
            Not sure if my sister (and her kids) is willing to do the same. Or my nephews. We all live in different countries around the world and some I have no way of contacting.

            She also was under investigation for about 20 years, so they already knew a lot about her lifestyle. It is not like they dropped a body on the doorstep and they had to go from there.

            • by Xacid ( 560407 ) on Sunday October 16, 2011 @10:46AM (#37730484) Journal

              "She did not have any children herself"

              I think I discovered the reason she lived so long! ;)

            • Another relative here, in the USA. :-) Send me an email if you want, my address is easy to find.

              She was my father's aunt IIRC. I only met her once that I can recall, when my father and I visited her home around 1985. But she might have been at some get together or other other times we visited that does not stick out in my mind. I don't remember her speaking English and I do not know that much Dutch. They talked and I went for a walk around the area. I was overdressed in a overcoat and hat, and some neighbor

      • by TheLink ( 130905 )

        simple dietary and behavioral changes will make such diseases fleetingly rare.

        It's obvious already. Finish a supersize meal or two at McD every day and you're unlikely to get Alzheimer's nor die of cancer.

        p.s. meanwhile they should sequence the DNA of some of the ultra-obese, and figure out how they manage to get so fat ( > 500kg) without dying.

      • by khallow ( 566160 )

        I hope we find the underlying cause and determine that simple dietary and behavioral changes will make such diseases fleetingly rare.

        I'll talk to the magic pink unicorns and get that set up ASAP. As I see it, if dietary and behavioral changes were enough, we would have seen it. Hoping for an easy win, when there's no reason to expect one, strikes me as rather futile.

      • rollmops and advocaat with cream?

    • by geogob ( 569250 )

      I don't think it will go in that direction (or I hope, to be more precise). But understanding what in her genome protected here from dementia-like diseases may help to identified exactly where in the cellular process these illnesses act and how. It could give you a very fundamental understanding of how these diseases work. This is the first step in finding either a cure (which is very unlikely) but above all a first step to find a way to identify people at risk early and provide proper treatment/nutrition t

    • This may be modded as flamebait, but I dunno if I want to have Alzheimer's treated by DNA modification.

      My paternal grandma lives with us, and she is suffering from alzheimer's. It's is very painful, among other things, she does not recognise her own son and daughter-in-law, and thinks they are her father and mother, since she sees us call them dad and mom. So I know what it feels like, it's absolutely horrible and terrifying, and I don't ever want to go through that when I grow old.

      But I don't know if DNA m

      • by dentin ( 2175 )

        I think you need to seriously re-evaluate your decision making. Let me help you lay it out in bare form:

        One the one side, we have a 99+% probability of complete dysfunction and death.

        On the other side, we have "some unknown side effect that could prove to be even worse and/or may not work".

        Sit down and really think for a minute about your "unknown side effect" scenarios. What are the odds of it working, 1%, 5%, 10%, 50%? What are the odds of catastrophic failure, 1%, 5%, 10%, 50%? What are the odds of f

      • But I don't know if DNA modification is the answer. I would never submit to that, nor would I submit my grandmother or any other family member to such a treatment. I would rather suffer Alzheimer, rather suffer some unknown side effect that could prove to be even worse, and may ironically not even cure alzeheimer!

        That's your choice, and it's your right to make it for yourself ...

        I would rather we not mess with DNA.

        ... but not for anyone else. If by "we" you mean yourself and family members who, like your grandmother, are unable to make medical decisions on their own, that's fine. If by "we" you mean everybody, there's a serious problem here.

        My grandfather died with Alzheimer's last year. He was a brilliant man, and seeing his mind decay while his body was still relatively healthy was heartbreaking. If there had been any treatment that would have g

      • I would rather we not mess with DNA.

        You better not have any kids then.

    • by gr8_phk ( 621180 )

      Hopefully this leads to people being able to have their DNA modified so that we no longer have to deal with mental diseases like Alzheimer's.

      That's not a technical problem, it's a social problem. For instance, I'd recommend China make exception to their one-child policy for couples with 4 healthy grandparents beyond a certain age. That way the long-healthy-life genes will become more common over time, without people having to figure out which genes and combinations of them are "good" which will have signif

  • From the future. Just saying.

  • Not surprising... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by demonlapin ( 527802 ) on Sunday October 16, 2011 @02:35AM (#37728688) Homepage Journal
    People over the age of 90 are typically very healthy - people with bad health habits often die before 70, though a few last until their mid-80s. If you make it to 90, you've got a very good chance of making 100. In addition, healthy people usually have good intellects regardless of their age - I've met more than a few 90+ year olds who are quite sharp.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Citation needed. This table [annuityadvantage.com] claims life expancy at 90 is 3.8 years (in the US?).

      • And at age 91, your life expectancy is 3.54 years - i.e., having lived another year, you have a life expectancy that has gone down by only about three months.
    • People over the age of 90 often are very ill, much more than people that are around 30. The ill ones you don't see, because they are in special care and not out on the streets. People over 90 often have bad habits, just about as often as people that are around 30. Statistics say that if you make it to 90, you have less than 50% of making 100, while If you are around 30, you have over 95% making it to 40. Your assumptions are flawed and not based on any numbers or facts.

      True, not everyone that smokes dies
      • I do see a lot of the ones that are in special care, though I will admit that my information is anecdotal. If you look at the table that the AC that replied to me pointed out, you can see [annuityadvantage.com] that by 90, another year of life only decreases your life expectancy by about three months. Their odds may not be better than 50%, but they're a lot better than the average 30-year-old's.
  • by fragMasterFlash ( 989911 ) on Sunday October 16, 2011 @02:41AM (#37728708)
    "Good news, everyone!"
  • This was a women in the Netherlands. Only one female ever made it to the age of 115 ever in the Netherlands. Even though the results are officially anonymous, there is only one person that could have been the donor. By stating the age she died, they effectively gave away her identity.
  • She's the oldest Dutch person ever:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hendrikje_van_Andel-Schipper [wikipedia.org]

    The retirement home where she lived until her death is just a couple hundred meters away from where I work.

  • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Sunday October 16, 2011 @03:23AM (#37728816)

    She was my great aunt : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hendrikje_van_Andel-Schipper [wikipedia.org]

    She donated her body already at the age of 80-85. To be talking in /. terms, she open sourced her body. She gave it to science or in her words "Let students and doctors cut me into little pieces and let those youngsters find out why I became this old." She had yearly meetings with the doctor who told her the whole procedure of what would happen when she died.
    That was also the reason some nurse was with her, so when the moment came, they would not loose any valuable time.

    This is not disrespectful. This was her wish for more then 20 years.

    The reason she is "anonymous" is because some idiots were claiming to be speaking of her behalf and said that a doctor could not bring out personal information regardless of the fact that this was the specific demand of the patient. Let the knowledge be spread. And knowing her, that would include her name as well.

    As her closest family (my dad, born 1930 and still healthy) and myself are living in other countries, we did not know of this trouble. Otherwise at least I would have intervened.

    I also like to donate my blood (or just DNA if it is a nice looking nurse) for the same research, but I am afraid it might end up with some sort of Monsanto. Scary that I am afraid of a company stealing my DNA when I want to give it to science.

  • Here in the Netherlands it was all over the news that Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper [wikipedia.org], a lady who died at age 115 and left her body to science, had speciale genes.

  • Barely on topic, but:

    Anybody heard people say "old-timer's disease [associatedcontent.com]" instead of "Alzheimer's disease"?

    Iâ(TM)ve always thought that "old-timerâ(TM)s disease" was a clever if tastelesspun on "Alzheimerâ(TM)s Disease"; but many people have assured me that thisis a common and quite unintentional error [beedictionary.com].

  • Having her sequence information doesn't really help to identify any mutation that might affect aging. You need a lot of subjects with the same phenotype (and you don't really know what the phenotype is) before you can start to identify the gene(s) you are looking for.

  • It took me all of 5 minutes to figure out the identity of the woman. There are very, very few women who live to be 115, and Wikipedia has a comprehensive list [wikipedia.org] of them. Since 2006, only three women have died at the age of 115. The BBC article says the women entered assisted living at the age of 105. I tried cross referencing that with their Wikipedia biographies, and bam - "She lived on her own until 1999 when she was 105 years old, and resided at the Western Convalescent Home in Jefferson Park, Los Angeles [lasentinel.net]

  • If we can find out how to get this gene to appear in everybody, we could get to push the new age lifespan of humans to be 150....no?

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson