The end regions of the chromosomes, or telomeres, decrease in length at each cell division and several studies have shown that a high percentage of telomeres shorter than the average in blood cells corresponds to a reduced life expectancy.
Short telomeres mean older cells, more prone to imperfect replications and, consequently, more susceptible to disease. Telomeres have basically the same function as the clear plastic tape that is applied to the ends of shoelaces that prevent them from fraying and wear, in the same way telomeres are parts of filament that do not encode any information, but prevent the fraying of DNA and related loss of information during the duplication process.
“Life Length”, a company based in Madrid that has created a business on the examination of telomeres, argues that the cell biological age test has the same value as a cholesterol exam: statistically those who have it higher have a greater chance of suffering from cardiovascular disease. The executives of the company are interested in offering their products to insurance companies and would like to introduce it alongside the check-ups and other examinations to which customers are normally subjected before the stipulation of a health or life insurance policy. A nice business, if one considers that today the exam costs about 800 euro and the company plans to bring it to 80 by 2017.