New test developed to determine your biological age
An international studyappears to have created a test that can determine the biological ageof a patient's body. The research – undertaken by King's CollegeLondon (KCL), the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, and Duke Universityin the US – could have a broad range of applications, includingimproving screening techniques for age-related diseases such asAlzheimer's, allowing doctors to begin treatment earlier in theprocess.
Before delving into theimportance of the research, we have to understand the differencebetween chronological age and biological age. Your chronological ageis your age in years, days and minutes from the moment you were born.Whilst all people age chronologically at the same rate, our bodiesrun on a separate biological clock, meaning that the bodies of twopeople at the chronological age of say 50, could have significantlydisparate biological ages.
Prior to the newresearch by KCL et al, there had been no reliable tool to accuratelydetermine a person's biological age, a factor synonymous withneurological diseases. The seven-year experiment saw the team examinethousands of tissue samples from subjects of the same chronologicalage, subjecting them to a test known as RNA profiling. Through thisapproach, it was discovered that the activation of 150 genes in theblood, brain and muscle tissue of an individual at the chronologicalage of 65 constituted the biological markers of being in good health.
Using this discovery asa basis, the researchers were then able to create a formulafor healthy aging. A low score based on the formula carried thehallmarks of cognitive decline. In an interesting twist, the samplesexamined as part of the study appeared to dispute the idea thatbiological age may result from an individual's lifestyle choices.
The team believe thatthe molecular test developed during the research could be easilytranslated into a blood test that could provide early indications ofthe onset of a degenerative disease such as Alzheimer's, which iscurrently known to affect 5.1 million people in America alone.
The results of thestudy have potential applications reaching beyond dementia research.The ability to accurately discern a person's biological age couldsignificantly increase the success rate of organ transplant surgeries,by matching the biological age of the patient with that of the donor.
The next step in theproject will be to determine why these differences in biological ageoccur, with an eye to attacking age-related diseases at their source.
A paper on the researchcan be found in the online journal Genome Biology.
Source:King's College London