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

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    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.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora