Scientists have developed a new test to determine how well – or indeed badly – your body is ageing and may even predict when you’re likely to die.
If a simple blood test could predict whether you’re likely to develop dementia, or even when you’re likely to die, would you take it?
Well, we’re not talking science fiction. Research out of King’s College London has lead to a new way of determining our ‘biological age’ by assessing the behaviour of 150 genes in the body. So you may be thirty, you may even look thirty, but at a biological level (where it really counts) you could be pushing 40. Yikes!
Naturally, this kind of information is useful – particularly to the NHS – when it comes to planning for future onset of what’s considered to be age-related diseases such as dementia.
The test was developed after the programme – headed up by Head of Precision Medicine Dr. Jamie Timmons – compared 54,000 gene markers. He told the BBC: ‘We found a molecular signature for biological age. Finding this biological signature means we’re now able to look at individuals and project their future health. We’ve been able to demonstrate the same signature in muscle, human brain, skin and blood, and blood is obviously the more convenient place to look at it.’
And we’re not talking a couple of years here-and-there; in one part of the work we studied people all born in the same year; there we saw, despite everyone just being a few months different in chronological age, there was nearly a 400-percent range in the biological score. It’s difficult to transfer it back into years, but you might imagine some were 15-years younger and some were 15-years older than their chronological age. So a substantial difference,’ he said.
Sounds exciting right? But, once you’ve had the test and you’ve got your score there’s not a whole lot you can do to change the results (other than heading to Powder to find the ultimate anti-ageing serums and creams). While lifestyle factors undoubtedly influence disease and other illnesses, this chronological base line is consistent and written into your genes while you’re still in the womb. It can, however, prepare you for what you might experience as you age.
Needless to say, a test such as this can be a valuable tool for health professionals and Dr Timmons thinks GPs will have it within their disposal in the next couple of years. Gulp.