A few hundred of the thousands of proteins circulating in our blood turn out to be a fairly accurate forecaster of a person’s age, scientists reported [December 5] — though one’s biological age, which doesn’t always match one’s number of years.
This “proteomic clock,” as the researchers call it, relies on measurements of levels of the proteins, which rise and fall over the years. While it’s a nifty discovery, for now it remains just that. Researchers need to first develop a much better understanding of these proteins; if they can, they said, it might be possible to one day look at their levels to gauge the success of drugs being tested in clinical trials, or even to develop a therapy from a cocktail of proteins that could act like a rejuvenation boost or improve health.
The researchers found that there was some regular fluctuation in the levels of proteins, but that there were three major shifts — what the scientists called “waves” or “crests” of changes — involving hundreds of proteins at three points in people’s lives: age 34, 60, and 78.
“Aging is not linear,” [researcher Tony] Wyss-Coray said. “It’s not that we steadily age as we get older.”
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