September 8, 2015

Researchers develop novel test which can tell how well a person is ageing

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(September 8, 2015)  The findings, published today in Genome Biology, could help improve management of age-related disease by identifying people most at risk of diseases affected by age, as well as improve the way anti-ageing treatments are evaluated.

The seven-year collaborative study at King’s College London, Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and Duke University in the USA, used a process called RNA-profiling to measure and compare gene expression in thousands of human tissue samples. Rather than looking for genes associated with disease or extreme longevity, the Medical Research Council (MRC)-funded researchers discovered that the ‘activation’ of 150 genes in the blood, brain and muscle tissue were a hallmark of good health at 65 years of age. The researchers were then able to create a reproducible formula for ‘healthy ageing’, and use this to tell how well a person is ageing when compared to others born the same year.

The researchers found an extensive range in ‘biological age’ scores of people born at the same time indicating that a person’s biological age is separate and distinct to his or her chronological age.

Importantly, a low score was found to correlate with cognitive decline, implying that the molecular test could translate into a simple blood test to predict those most at risk of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias and suitable for taking part in prevention trials.