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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Blood test that tells how long you'll live

Sulaiman Kamal | 3:46 PM | Best Blogger Tips

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A US$700 (RM2,030) blood test that tells someone’s biological age will go on sale in Britain later this year, reports the Independent.

The test will be able to offer the possibility of estimating how long the person has left to live by measuring telomeres on the tip of their chromosomes, the most important and accurate indicators of how rapidly someone is aging.

However, critics worry that it can be misused by some companies that try to sell unproven anti-aging remedies. Insurance companies might also take interest in the result of the test to decide what kind of medical coverage they will offer.

However, the test could provide insights into a range of age-related disorders, from cardiovascular disease to Alzheimer’s and cancer.

The inventor of the test said that the fact that short telomeres can cause a shorter lifespan is already known.

“What’s new about this test is that it is very precise. We can detect a very small differences in telomere length and it is a very simple and fast technique where many samples can be analyzed at the same time. Most importantly, we are able to determine the presence of dangerous telomeres -- those that are very short,” said Maria Blasco of the Spanish National Cancer Research Center.

Telomere research is also an exciting area in biomedical science and three scientists who received the Nobel Prize last year are pioneers in the field.

“It will be useful for you to know your biological age and maybe to change your lifestyle habits if you find you have short telomeres,” said a former post-doctoral student of the Nobel Prize winner Carol Greider of Harvard Medical School.

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