Broad genetic alterations relying on recently popular polygenic risk scores can successfully lengthen life expectancy.

Discoveries of variants and mutations in the human genome always pose two kinds of possibilities: diagnostic and therapeutic approaches. The recent emergence of polygenic risk scores – assessing the risk of complex diseases (like Alzheimer’s disease) by thousands of sequence variants – was mainly viewed in identification categories, as detection of higher risk may lead to changes in lifestyle.

However, a new study suggests that polygenic risk scores can be a basis for widespread preventive gene therapies. Using conservative assessments of late-age diseases heritability, the author calculated that hypothetical genetic edition of thousands of sequence fragments should lead to delay of Alzheimer’s disease by three years and type II diabetes, stroke, and coronary artery disease by 10-15 years.

Currently, analyzed technologies are not available, as precise genetic modifications apply to a single point in the genome in a single reaction. In the future, possible preventive intervention in early life or even before birth can significantly extend human life expectancy.

More: “Quantifying the potential for future gene therapy to lower lifetime risk of polygenic late-onset diseases”, R. Oliynyk, 2018, doi.org/10.1101/390773.