News that boffins may have found the secret of eternal youth might have been quashed thanks to a computer error.
Last week boffins thought they found the genes which allowed extreme old age. The paper identified 150 genetic variants that might increase a person’s chances of making it to age 100.
At the time, Newsweek quoted boffins who thought the claims were too good to be true. Now Newsweek has gone further and worked out that the results might be a computer error that could cause false-positive results.
At the centre of the investigations was a suspect DNA chip called the 610-Quad, which is used to identify and sequence the chemical letters of DNA.
Apparently it has a tendency to get some small but critical details wrong. The flaw with the chip and the way it was used could cast serious doubt on the study’s strongest results.
It would suggest that the results of the study were the result of a lab mishap rather than a real link to long life.
All it will take is for other boffins to rerun the analysis using a single different DNA chip. Strangely this was not done before the publication of the results.
All of the chips used in the Science study came from the same manufacturer, Illumina, but they weren’t identical. The boffins had to use the 610-Quad machine when another was taken off the market.