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article imageStudying a person’s blood says how old they are

By Tim Sandle     Jan 16, 2017 in Science
Scientists have found a way to accurately determine how old a person is biologically from studying some newly identified biomarkers in the blood. This represents a step forward in estimating age and this will lead to medical benefits.
Assessing a person’s chronological age is difficult. Facial features and physiological measurements can provide an estimate, but they are not wholly accurate. A new test has been developed where biological markers (‘biomarkers’) are screened for in blood samples.
To identify appropriate biomarkers, researchers undertook a molecular study of biological aging. With this, scientists from Boston University School of Medicine assessed blood samples from 4,700 people across an eight year period. From the blood samples, 19 potential biomarkers were selected. The biomarkers related to the immune system, kidney function, and lipid metabolism. The biomarkers were cross-checked against the health of the subjects.
The 19 biomarkers produced 26 ‘signatures’. Live Science reports that some of these signatures were deemed important in relation to health. In particular ‘signature 2’ was linked with lower mortality, morbidity and better physical function. However, a further nine signatures were linked with a higher risk of ill health and mortality.
Not only did the biomarkers provide an estimation of age they also provide a prediction in terms of healthy aging and with the chances of developing age-related diseases like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
The reason for accurately determining a person’s age is because many drugs are age dependent, in that certain drugs are applicable for people of different ages (especially the child-teen-adult divide). A secondary factor is with the appropriate time to give vaccinations and when booster vaccinations are required. The third point of importance is that the collected biomarkers appear to indicate how a patient might respond to different medications. The data could also be used to select patients for clinical trials.
Speaking with Laboratory Roots, the lead scientist Thomas Perls said: "We can now detect and measure thousands of biomarkers from a small amount of blood, with the idea of eventually being able to predict who is at risk of a wide range of diseases, long before any clinical signs become apparent.”
The study is published in the journal Aging Cell, and it is headed “Biomarker signatures of aging.”
More about Blood, Age, Ageing, Aging, biomarker
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