News / Health

Body Clock Provides Clues to Aging

A group of elderly men take a rest on their wheelchairs at a park in Beijing, (File photo).
A group of elderly men take a rest on their wheelchairs at a park in Beijing, (File photo).
Rosanne Skirble
If you’re searching for the fountain of youth, you might find it in your DNA. That’s according to a new study that sheds light on the biological clock ticking in our genomes, why our bodies age and how we can slow down the process.
A newly discovered biological clock goes beyond Leonardo de Vinci’s image of the ideal man to add time and measures the age of most human tissues, organs and cells throughout the body. (Credit: UCLA/Horvath Lab)A newly discovered biological clock goes beyond Leonardo de Vinci’s image of the ideal man to add time and measures the age of most human tissues, organs and cells throughout the body. (Credit: UCLA/Horvath Lab)
x
A newly discovered biological clock goes beyond Leonardo de Vinci’s image of the ideal man to add time and measures the age of most human tissues, organs and cells throughout the body. (Credit: UCLA/Horvath Lab)
A newly discovered biological clock goes beyond Leonardo de Vinci’s image of the ideal man to add time and measures the age of most human tissues, organs and cells throughout the body. (Credit: UCLA/Horvath Lab)

University of California genetics professor Steve Horvath has created a new tool that can accurately measure the aging body. 

“Basically I developed a way of predicting age based on DNA," Horvath said. "To achieve this goal I identified 353 markers on the DNA which measure DNA methylation levels.” 

Methylation is a naturally occurring epigenetic - or gene altering - process that chemically modifies the DNA and is critical in the development of every organism. Horvath and his colleagues gleaned information from 8,000 samples to chart methylation in healthy and diseased organs, tissues and cells, from fetuses to centenarians.

“For one thing, I find that this epigenetic clock ticks fastest during development, and after age 20 it slows down to a constant ticking rate," he said. "But also I find that cancer tissue is on average 36 years older than healthy tissue and I observed that effect in all 20 cancer types that I studied.”   

In other words, some cells age faster than others.

Horvath notes that while most biological samples matched their chronological age, some diverged significantly. The average human heart, for example, appears to be 12 years younger than its chronological age, and a woman’s healthy breast tissue ages faster than the rest of her body.    
LISTEN: Body Clock Provides Clues to Aging
LISTEN: Body Clock Provides Clues to Aging i
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

“So it is possible that the cancer that is adjacent to this tissue accelerates the age," he said. "Having said this, I had one data set that was composed of truly healthy breast tissue and even there I observed a significant age acceleration.”

The results may explain why breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. 

Remarkably, Horvath says the clock kept reliable time across the human anatomy, irrespective of where the DNA came from.

“This new epigenetic clock really frees us up from focusing on one tissue at a time because it really works in most tissues and organs and cell types, and the great advantage is that we now can compare the ages of different tissues and organs from the same individual,” he said.

Horvath says the work holds promise for studying human development, aging and disease, but also shows potential for rejuvenating tissues.

"Of course it has been a long-standing hope to find therapies or compounds that keep us young, and if this epigenetic clock measures a process that causes aging, then we will have a tool that allows us to evaluate compounds that keep us young,” he said

So has Horvath found the Fountain of Youth?

"I have unfortunately no data that would support that,” he said with a laugh.

You May Like

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs