Analyzing the epigenetic clock and genetic changes in people may partly explain and predict predisposition of people to life-changing illnesses and the aging process. These may range from type 2 diabetes, to other complex conditions like mental disorder and cancer.
Studies by separate teams of scientists uncovered how identifying epigenetic markers could predict certain debilitating diseases. Culled from the Greek epi which means over, outside of, or around, the term epigenome refers to everything that happens on or around the genes.
An epigenetic clock is a DNA clock type scientists use to measure natural DNA methylation levels in order to gauge the biological age of a tissue, cell type or organ. The clock can predict, in part, whether people will die young or at a later age. It is a useful tool that aids healthcare practitioners in ascertaining the timing of pathologies associated with aging, while offering greater understanding on the mechanisms, allowing appropriate countermeasures to be devised.
Genetics & Accelerated Aging Effects of Disease
Certain diseases do create accelerated aging effects and healthy lifestyle habits do help improve quality life. The takeaway message from the study is that genetics, not lifestyle choices, plays the more powerful role in postponing the end of life for some people. The study findings also become crucial in letting people realize how certain health issues, such as being overweight or obese, can change their DNA and affect the health of their offsprings.
How the Revolutionary Research Was Carried Out
The research team from University of California Los Angeles, led by geneticist Steve Horvath, touched base with 65 other scientists across the world and analyzed blood samples extracted from over 13,000 people.
Using the epigenic clock developed by Horvath years back to calculate the age of tissues and blood, scientists pegged the results against the subject’s chronological age to determine life expectancy. The higher the age from the biological calculation, the earlier the death.
The researchers factored in the typical risk factors including age, gender, weight, smoking, and history. The bottomline is that it is the body’s inherent aging process that has more to do with extending life expectancy, the study authors pointed out.
In other news, another big-scale international study highlighted how the epigenome is altered as a result of body changes, notably unhealthy weight gain. Helmholtz Zentrum München, a partner in the German Center for Diabetes Research, coordinated the study on how high body mass index leads to epigenetic changes.
Blood samples of over 10,000 men and women from Europe, many of whom were dwelling in London and were of Indian lineage and were categorized as high-risk for obesity and metabolic disorders, were examined. Scientist Dr. Harald Grallert, head of the group on Molecular Epidemiology – Diabetes and Related Traits confirmed how high BMI/being overweight affected DNA.
This scientific finding paves the path for the creation of new strategies to predict and prevent type 2 diabetes and other negative repercussions of being overweight. Overall, it can be noted that the aging process is manifested in many different ways. New scientific findings help people understand the body’s inner workings better.