Telomere controversy: Could stem cell biomarkers help treat chronic diseases?

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The pyramids of Sudan, Meroe. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

There are many questionable aging-related products on the market. One of the more recent is TeloYears, a test that supposedly determines your “true age” by measuring the length of a structure on your chromosomes called telomeres.

Is this test accurate? Probably not. There doesn’t seem to be any credible link between telomere length and overall health…

[However, new] research…shows that molecular and physical changes in skin cells can be used to calculate a “cellular age” that may be used as a proxy for healthspan.

[The researchers] examined dermal fibroblasts (skin cells that produce connective tissue) in 32 samples taken from people who ranged in age from 2 to 96 years old…As predicted, the scientists were able to tell the difference between fibroblasts taken from young people and old people.

A model that plots predicted age with chronological age may allow us to help treat genetic diseases.

If the authors’ results hold up under further scrutiny, the implications are potentially large. Aging is not well understood, but this team’s results may provide several important leads into the molecular mechanisms of aging. This could allow for the development of drugs that target chronic diseases, as well as therapies to help mitigate the inevitable physiological decline associated with growing old.

[Read the full study here (behind paywall)]

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Skin Cell Biomarkers Predict Person’s Biological Age, Healthspan

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