Measuring Your Age in DNA Methylation, Not Candles

#Health

Sat, Oct 26th, 2013 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to the LA Times, scientists plan on using a new biological clock that will "determine the age of tissues in the human body based on changes that take place in cells' DNA as it matures." In turn, this "technique could help predict where age-related diseases are likely to strike."

Researchers pored over the DNA of some 8,000 samples from 51 different tissues and cells -- including blood, brain, muscle, heart, lungs, liver and pancreas -- to devise a formula by which DNA methylation could be used to determine the age of the tissue from which the tested cells are drawn.

The research, published Monday in the journal Genome Biology, makes clear that the answer to the question "how old is this person?" may change depending on which tissue is checked.

In a single individual, the "DNAm" ages of diverse tissues largely converge on one number. But certain tissues may diverge from the norm. By comparing a specific tissue's "DNAm" age with the person's chronological age -- or with the DNAm age suggested by the person's other tissues -- physicians may one day be able to identify organs or tissues that are aging at an accelerated rate. That, in turn, may allow them to identify tissues that are vulnerable to abnormal processes such as cancer, or already under attack.

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