Everyone grows older, but scientists don’t really understand why. Now, a UCLA study has uncovered a biological clock embedded in our genomes that may shed light on why our bodies age and how we can slow the process.
Published in the journal Genome Biology, the findings could offer valuable insights to benefit cancer and stem cell research.
While earlier biological clocks have been linked to saliva, hormones and telomeres, the new research is the first to result in the development of an age-predictive tool that uses a previously unknown time-keeping mechanism in the body to accurately gauge the age of diverse human organs, tissues and cell types. Unexpectedly, this new tool demonstrated that some parts of the anatomy, like a woman’s breast tissue, age faster than the rest of the body.
“To fight aging, we first need an objective way of measuring it. Pinpointing a set of biomarkers that keeps time throughout the body has been a four-year challenge,” said Steve Horvath, a professor of human genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a professor of biostatistics at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. “My goal in inventing this age-predictive tool is to help scientists improve their understanding of what speeds up and slows down the human aging process.”