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State-of-the-Art blood test may tell how long you'll live, what diseases you'll get - and how fast you age

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
July 9th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

No need for gazing into the crystal ball any longer . a new blood test may now tell you how long you will live, as well as how quickly you will age. Discovering a chemical "fingerprint" in the blood, scientists say this may provide clues to an infant's health and rate of aging near the end of life.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The discovery raises implications of a simple test at birth that could stave off the ravages of disease in old age, leading to the development of powerful new treatments for age-related conditions such as bone problems and heart disease.

Researchers identified 22 metabolites, small molecules linked to metabolism, which may be useful indicators of how we can expect to grow old. One metabolite in particular, linked to a range of traits including lung function, bone density, blood pressure and cholesterol levels were singled out.
 
The metabolite is also strongly associated with birth weight, itself a known determinant of healthy aging. Called C-glyTrp, it could reflect accelerated aging in later adulthood.

Higher levels of the molecule were associated with lower weight at birth in comparisons between pairs of identical twins.

Scientists say that identical twins share the same genes, which suggests that levels of the metabolite are altered by nutrition or different conditions in the womb.

"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," Study leader Professor Tim Spector, from King's College London says.

"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."

To this effect, Spector's team analyzed blood samples donated by more than 6,000 twins. The researchers identified 22 metabolites directly linked to chronological age, with higher concentrations in older than in younger people.

The gene influencing levels of C-glyTrp could be modified by epigenetics, a process whereby environmental factors switch genes on or off and alter their activity.

"Human ageing is a process influenced by genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors, but genes only explain a part of the story," Co-author Dr. Ana Valdes, also from King's College London says.

"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.

"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," Valdes says.

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