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New Blood Test May Reveal How Long You'll Live

By Nick Tate   |   Tuesday, 09 Jul 2013 12:08 PM

Scientists have developed a revolutionary new blood test that they say can tell whether you’re likely to live a long life and how quickly you will age.

The test assesses chemical "fingerprints" in the blood — metabolites left behind as a result of early molecular changes before birth or in infancy — that provide clues to an individual's overall health and rate of aging later in life.
The study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, was based on examinations of the blood of twins led by King's College London that revealed 22 metabolites linked to aging. One of the 22 — tied to aging traits such as lung function and bone density — is also strongly associated with birth weight, a well-known developmental determinant of healthy aging.

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Tim Spector, head of the Department of Twin Research at King's College London, said the findings suggest these markers of aging may one day be identified with simple blood tests to provide clues to the aging process and pave the way for development of therapies to treat age-related conditions.
"Scientists have known for a long time that a person's weight at the time of birth is an important determinant of health in middle and old age, and that people with low birth weight are more susceptible to age-related diseases," Spector said. "So far the molecular mechanisms that link low birth weight to health or disease in old age had remained elusive, but this discovery has revealed one of the molecular pathways involved."
For the study, Spector and colleagues analyzed blood samples donated by more than 6,000 twins to identify the 22 metabolites directly linked to aging.
One particular marker — C-glyTrp — is associated with a range of age-related traits such as lung function, bone mineral density, cholesterol, and blood pressure. But the researchers found it was also associated with lower weight at birth when they compared the birth weights of identical twins.
Ana Valdes, lead researcher from King's, noted biology isn’t the only factor in aging and longevity. But the findings provide new clues to the aging process that may lead to novel treatments for age-related diseases that strike tens of millions of people.
"Human aging is a process influenced by genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors, but genes only explain a part of the story," she said. "Molecular changes that influence how we age over time are triggered by epigenetic changes. This study has for the first time used analysis of blood and epigenetic changes to identify a novel metabolite that has a link to birth weight and rate of aging.
"Understanding the molecular pathways involved in the aging process could ultimately pave the way for future therapies to treat age-related conditions. As these 22 metabolites linked to aging are detectable in the blood, we can now predict actual age from a blood sample pretty accurately and in the future this can be refined to potentially identify future rapid biological aging in individuals."
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