New blood test shows how long you will live

by Deborah Braconnier report

(Medical Xpress) -- A controversial test capable of revealing just how long you have to live is set to hit the market in Britain within the year. The test measures a person's telomeres which are the structures found on the tips of chromosomes and researchers believe that these telomeres are crucial indicators of the speed in which a body is ageing.

The test was developed by Maria Blasco from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre. Blasco’s company, Life Length, is in negotiations with medical diagnostic businesses throughout Europe in order to collect blood samples and market the tests.

The test works by measuring the length of the and is able to then determine the biological age of a person. Research shows that individuals with shorter than normal telomeres have a shorter span than those individuals with longer telomeres. The test, however, is not capable of giving an exact length of life in terms of months or years.

Many critics of the new test are referring to it as opening Pandora’s Box. While the personal interest an individual may have in seeing just how long they have left to live, insurance companies may be just as interested in this information. Life-insurance companies may look to require testing on individuals, and those unfortunate enough to have smaller telomeres may find it difficult to get insurance. Others are concerned this may open a new door to scams and ‘miracle cures’ being offered to ‘extend’ life expectancy and take advantage of those with shorter telomeres.

Researchers are hoping that the testing of telomeres could provide vital information on premature deaths due to many conditions ranging from Alzheimer’s, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. They believe that within the next five to 10 years, telomere testing will become very widespread. The current cost for this is around $700, though Blasco hopes to be able to bring down the prices as public demand increases.

Related Stories

Telomere length affects colorectal cancer risk

Oct 28, 2010

For the first time, researchers have found a link between long telomeres and an increased risk for colorectal cancer, according to research presented at the American Association for Cancer Research special conference on Colorectal ...

Size Matters - When it Comes to DNA

Jun 09, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new study at the University of Leicester is examining a sequence of DNA- known as telomeres - that varies in length between individual.

Recommended for you

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

nanotech_republika_pl
not rated yet May 17, 2011
In US, SpectraCell offers the telomere length test (for about 2 years I think), and the test is a scam in my opinion.The test is designed to be used in statistical tests on hundreds of samples not on a single person, so the error you get is like 10-30% or maybe more (the company will not admit), which is about where you can say: it shows that I'm way younger than average if the error is +20% or way older than average if the error is -20%. Good luck interpreting it on a single sample. A solution is to test yourself 100 times to increase the confidence level in the result. The price of a single test is about $350.