New study finds length of DNA strands can predict life expectancy

Can the length of strands of DNA in patients with heart disease predict their life expectancy? Researchers from the Intermountain Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City, who studied the DNA of more that 3,500 patients with heart disease, say yes it can.

In the new study, presented Saturday, March 9, at the American College of Cardiology's Annual Scientific Session in San Francisco, the researchers were able to predict among patients with heart disease based on the length of strands of DNA found on the ends of chromosomes known as telomeres—the longer the patient's telomeres, the greater the chance of living a longer life.

The study is one of 17 studies from the Intermountain Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center that are being presented at the scientific session, which is being attended by thousands of and from around the world.

Previous research has shown that telomere length can be used as a measure of age, but these expanded findings suggest that telomere length may also predict the of patients with heart disease.

Telomeres protect the ends of chromosome from becoming damaged. As people get older, their telomeres get shorter until the cell is no longer able to divide. Shortened telomeres are associated with age-related diseases such as heart disease or cancer, as well as exposure to oxidative damage from stress, smoking, , or conditions that accelerate biologic aging.

" by their nature get shorter as we get older," said John Carlquist, PhD, director of the Intermountain Heart Institute Genetics Lab. "Once they become too short, they no longer function properly, signaling the end of life for the cell. And when cells reach this stage, the patient's risk for age-associated diseases increases dramatically."

Dr. Carlquist and his colleagues from the Intermountain Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center tested the DNA samples from more than 3,500 heart attack and stroke patients.

"Our research shows that if we statistically adjust for age, patients with longer telomeres live longer, suggesting that telomere length is more than just a measure of age, but may also indicate the probability for survival. Longer telomere length directly correlate with the likelihood for a longer life—even for patients with ," said Dr. Carlquist.

Dr. Carlquist and his colleagues from the Intermountain Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center drew on two unique resources that offer unparalleled opportunity for researchers to study the effects of telomere length and survival rates of heart patients:

  • An archive of peripheral blood collected from almost 30,000 heart patients, with as much as 20 years of follow-up clinical and survival data. This is stored in Intermountain Healthcare's world-renowned computerized medical informatics record system.
"With so many samples and very complete electronic records, it's a unique resource," said Dr. Carlquist. "It's unmatched in the world, and it allows us to measure the rate of change in the length of a patient's over time rather than just a snapshot in time, which is typical for most studies."
  • The opportunity to work with experts from around the world, including Richard Cawthon, MD, PhD, who's an international expert on telomere measurement and function.
"I believe telomere length could be used in the future as a way to measure the effectiveness of heart care treatment," said Dr. Carlquist. "We can already test cholesterol and blood pressure of a patient to see how treatment is working, but this could give us a deeper view into how the treatment is affecting the body and whether or not the treatment is working."

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dogbert
1.8 / 5 (5) Mar 10, 2013
I don't think this actually provides more information than we already knew. We already knew that telomere length is correlated with life span.
Antoweif
1.8 / 5 (5) Mar 10, 2013
Like I use to say, "A new study, doesn't make it a new discovery.".
Tausch
1 / 5 (6) Mar 10, 2013
The rate of change of length is important.
Assigning the label 'survival' to the meaning of life when all life eventually goes extinct is questionable.
What does evolution want? To abandon this planet while still alive?
Many deep freeze their code for a life form that will be obsolete when thawed.
dogbert
1.8 / 5 (5) Mar 10, 2013
What does evolution want?


Only if you believe in nature as god does that question make any sense.

Evolution doesn't have desire or goals. Evolution is not an entity capable of thinking and planning.
Tausch
1 / 5 (5) Mar 10, 2013
Evolution has direction wrt to adaptation. And yet all planets days are numbered. I am not assigning a purpose to evolution.

In light of extinction, adaptation gains additional meaning.
Tausch
1 / 5 (5) Mar 10, 2013
You are the person that makes a distinction between a process and the result of a process.

This distinction can only be upheld in a static universe.
There is no evidence that matter or energy is static.
dogbert
1 / 5 (4) Mar 10, 2013
You are the person that makes a distinction between a process and the result of a process.


There certainly is a distinction between a process and the result of a process.
Tausch
1 / 5 (5) Mar 10, 2013
If you are a mathematician, yes.
You can not extend this to physical systems.
dogbert
1 / 5 (5) Mar 10, 2013
Tausch,

You see no distinction between building a car and driving a car?

Tausch
1 / 5 (4) Mar 10, 2013
You have switch original premise. From biology to physics.
You have assign the car a purpose. Driving.

The process was to built the car. The result is a completed car.
Only the result is never completed. The car decays not only during building, the car decays once completion is reached.
Decay is the process and result. Independent of purpose.

You can stop driving. You can start driving. The process is driving. When you stop and start you have two results. The car stands still. The car moves.
Nothing stops or starts in Nature. You know this already.
You assume an event is static in nature to uphold your premise.

baudrunner
1 / 5 (6) Mar 10, 2013
Decay is the process and result. Independent of purpose.
Not so, when it comes to cars - something called "planned obsolescence". According to the scriptures, God gave man only 120 years max. So we have planned obsolescence built in. There were giants "in those days", and they were the product of the union of "the sons of the gods" and "the daughters of men". It would make sense that their great longevity was in due in part to extremely long telemeres, which would add to the overall bulk of the individual because of the larger package represented by their DNA.
dogbert
1 / 5 (4) Mar 10, 2013
Tausch,

You presume that a process must continue to a result. It does not.

Witness the many organisms which simply die out. They do not lead to something else, they simply cease to exist.

The process is not the result.

Evolution supposes that something new will result from changes to an organism.

There is no requirement in nature that the process of change must result in anything else at all.
Tausch
1 / 5 (5) Mar 10, 2013
Silly. You can not plan for obsolescence unless you have what is label decay, or if you will 'obsolescence'.
Controlling the rate of decay is the 'plan' for obsolescence.

Thanks to your belief in God we have obsolescence.
Thanks to our science we can control the 'plan' (rate) of 'obsolescence'(decay).

DNA and telemeres are words of your vocabulary. You apply your imagination as well as your knowledge in the context of life when you write these words.

That is the greatest tribute to science you can endow to their discoverers.
A far greater tribute than to any other belief you hold.
On behalf of the entire global scientific community:
We thank you for use of our vocabulary.
Tausch
1 / 5 (5) Mar 10, 2013
Evolution supposes nothing. You can not assign a purpose to evolution. You can not assign a result to evolution - a never-ending process.
Tausch
1 / 5 (5) Mar 10, 2013
You had an opportunity to shake your opponents discourse to their foundational cores. Your advocates were mathematics and physics.

You chose instead to hover around the conversational meanings of the words 'process' and 'result'.

I did not come to your aid. Why? Because no one even considered to use powerful proponents - physics and math - to turn the tide of discourse.
Kron
1 / 5 (4) Mar 11, 2013
This is common knowledge. Telomeres are end caps of DNA strands. With each cell division telomere length shortens. The number of times cell division can take place is set by the telomere length. Once the telomeres are gone the cells can no longer divide.

Is there any new studies on the effectiveness of telomerase in telomere lengthening?
Kron
1 / 5 (4) Mar 11, 2013
What I'm looking for are studies which show telomere lengthening without a cancer incidence increase. I'd appreciate any links of this nature.
Tausch
1 / 5 (4) Mar 11, 2013
So the rate at which Telomeres shorten is directly proportional to rate of cell division? What determines the rate of cell division?

Yes Madame. Right away madame. On it.
"I'd appreciate any links of this nature."

Coffee too?