Science News

Gene signal informs Alzheimer's risk

Thu, 10th Sep 2015

Jo Kerr

A gene test can be used to detect a personís risk of developing age related diseases such as Alzheimerís, according to research published this week in Genome Biology. Blood test

Scientists led by James Timmons from Kingís College London have uncovered a molecular signature of a person's biological age. It is this biological age which can be used to assess the risk of that individual developing certain age-related diseases, including Alzheimer's.

"We could see the same biological marker of healthy aging in the human brain, skin, and human blood studies. So at that point we knew that we had something that was a pretty universal marker of biological age," says James.

RNA extracted from the cells of a group of healthy 65 year olds was used to develop a profile covering 150 genes that can be used as a healthy ageing benchmark dubbed a "healthy ageing gene score" by the team.

In the group of subjects examined, there was a 400 percent range in the healthy ageing gene score.

"If we look at people aged 40 and 50, we can already see big differences between one individual and another."

Early intervention is the key to treating several age related diseases, however detecting these diseases at an early stage can prove problematic. This new marker approach could be used to target the people most at risk of developing a disease, and help advance work into both treatments and prevention.

"If you donít identify the people first, then you canít carry out the intervention and try to prevent it,Ē says James.


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