UCLA scientist developed biological clock able to measure age of most human tissues. Study finds, using a previously undiscovered time-keeping mechanism in the human body, women’s breast tissue ages faster than the rest of the body.
UCLA professor Steve Horvath developed an age-predictive tool that can accurately gauge the age of diverse human organs, tissues and cell type.
“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. 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.”
Gleaning information from nearly 8,000 samples of 51 types of tissue and cells taken from throughout the body, Horvath charted how age affects DNA methylation levels from pre-birth through 101 years. For the age predictor, he zeroed in on 353 markers linked to methylation that change with age and are present throughout the body.
Horvath tested the predictive tool’s effectiveness by comparing a tissue’s biological age to its chronological age. When the tool repeatedly proved accurate in matching biological to chronological age, he was thrilled — and a little stunned.
“It’s surprising that one could develop a predictive tool that reliably keeps time across the human anatomy. My approach really compared apples and oranges, or in this case, very different parts of the body — including brain, heart, lungs, liver, kidney and cartilage.
Healthy breast tissue is about two to three years older than the rest of a woman’s body. If a woman has breast cancer, the healthy tissue next to the tumor is an average of 12 years older than the rest of her body.”
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