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article imageDNA can predict when we’re going to die

By Tim Sandle     Feb 8, 2015 in Science
New research finds new link between DNA, which acts like a biological clock, and lung disease. Studying the ends of DNA could predict when people with the disease may die.
Research conducted by Jonathan Alder of Brigham Young University suggests that there are tiny biological clocks attached to the ends of our chromosomes. Dr. Alder raises this in an interview with the website Laboratory Manager. Small DNA end caps, called telomeres, appear to provide clues as to life expectancy. It seems that the shorter the telomeres, then the shorter the probable lifespan.
This is related to the fact that when people are born, their telomeres are longer; then, as people age, they shorten. It is the rate of shortening which is significant. When the telomeres shorten to the point when they effectively disappear, the cell containing the DNA becomes inactive or dies. This phenomenon is also connected to disease.
Moreover, short telomeres also correlate with specific diseases. There is a connection between shorter DNA end-caps and conditions like bone marrow failure, liver disease, skin disease and lung disease. Here, someone with lung disease for example, has shorter telomeres than someone of an equivalent age.
In terms of what is happening, unnaturally short telomeres are linked to gene mutations. With the lung cancer cases these genetic mutations are connected with pulmonary fibrosis and emphysema.
Some strands of research are looking into ways to make telomeres longer. However, it is unknown, supposing such a process is possible, that it would lead to greater protection from disease — a previous study suggested that
lengthening of telomeres was more prevalent in people who had more omega-3s in their diet, in comparison to other fatty acids in their diet.
More about Telomeres, Dna, Cancer, Lung cancer
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