July 25th, 2011
03:25 PM ET

High-profile longevity study retracted

It sounded like a breakthrough when researchers from Boston University reported that they had identified genes associated with living to 100 or even longer.  The findings, reported in the well-respected journal Science in July 2010, received a great deal of publicity.

But now, after coming under intense criticism, the study authors have retracted their findings because their  results aren't as dramatic as initially thought.

Controversy surrounded the study soon after publication. Newsweek was first to report serious questions from outside experts about the methodology. The issue involved a critical technical aspect of the test and the equipment used to analyze DNA.  The study authors said they re-analyzed the data, with help from an independent laboratory, and resubmitted the results.

However, Science said in a statement that while there is no indication of misconduct, the study no longer merits publication.

In a new statement published in Science, the researchers wrote, "We feel the main scientific findings remain supported by the available data," citing links between specific clusters of genes and longevity, as well as a link between certain gene clusters and specific age-related diseases.   However, they added, "the specific details of the new analysis change substantially from those originally published online to the point of becoming a new report.  Therefore, we retract the original manuscript and will pursue alternative publication of the new findings."

Dr. Thomas Perls, the leader of the research project, told CNN the new paper has been completed and has already been submitted to another journal.  He said he is unable to discuss the specific new findings while the paper is still under review.

Perls and lead author Paola Sebastiani, PhD. discussed the initial controversy here.

Read more from the Boston Globe

CNN Senior Producer Caleb Hellerman contributed to this report.
Follow @CNNHealth on Twitter.

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