Plenty in Silicon Valley have set their sites on ending death, or at least extending it a bit – including those within the walls of Google. Now AncestryDNA, one part of the largest online family research organization Ancestry.com, has buddied up with Google’s cloistered longevity research company Calico to figure out why some people’s genes help them live longer.
AncestryDNA hosts the genomic data of more than one million people and family trees that can be traced back hundreds of years.
The plan is to analyze that anonymized data from the millions of public family trees within Ancestry’s database to try to determine the role genes play in longevity. Calico will then work on the developing and commercializing of potential therapeutics based on that research, according to the two companies.
“Our common experience suggests that there may be hereditary factors underlying longevity, but finding the genes responsible using standard techniques has proven elusive,” Calico’s chief scientific officer David Botstein said in a statement. “This is an extraordinary opportunity to address a fundamental unanswered question in longevity research using high quality human pedigrees.”
Scientists have already identified certain genes that determine if you will live longer than others. And research on gene therapy involving mice showed that manipulating our DNA could hold promise in the search for life eternal…or at least a longer time on Earth.
But, as Google’s “futurist” Ray Kurzweil once said, “Life expectancy is a statistical phenomenon. You could still be hit by the proverbial bus tomorrow.”