Home > Articles

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

The Longevity Genes Project

The Longevity Genes Project was launched in 1998 by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (AECM) at Yeshiva University in New York City. The project, led by Dr. Nir Barzilai, Director of AECM’s age-related diseases. The project has looked at more than 600 centenarians and their offspring. All the people in the study are Ashkenazi Jews, a group originally from Eastern Europe, who have been identified as being able to live extraordinarily long and healthy lives. Barzilai also needed a population with the same genetic background to better isolate specific genes.

In 2013, CBS News interviewed Irving Kahn, one of Barzilai’s study participants. At the time, Kahn was 107 years old. His brother was 105. His sister lived to 109. And, his son was 69. (Kahn died in 2015 at the age of 109.)

When asked what he saw when he walked past Central Park in New York on his way to school as a young boy, Kahn told CBS News he would see “things you would never see (today) ... cows, sheep on the lawn.”

The study has revealed that lifestyle has nothing to do with the family’s exceptional longevity. (Kahn said his favorite food is “A rare hamburger ... and a good cheese.”)

Phase 1 of the study produced significant gene-related findings. The analysis of the blood samples of the Ashkenazi centenarians and their children showed high amounts of good cholesterol called HDL. The average amount found in their blood was 80 mg/dL to 250 mg/dL. The normal range for HDL is 35 mg/dL to 65 mg/dL for men and 35 mg/dL to 80 mg/dL for women.

They also discovered three genes that centenarians have that protect their bodies against age-related diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and inflammation.

The research produced by the study is going into the development of drugs that will help people deal with age-related diseases. Barzilai says the future lies in developing drugs that could give everyone the same advantage that Super Agers have.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account