King’s College London professor James Timmons has developed a gene signature blood test that he believes could be used to predict Alzheimer’s disease. His goal is early detection and preventative treatment. The test is the first to measure biological age.
Researchers analyzed thousands of blood, brain and muscle samples to find 150 markers of gene activity associated with good health at age 65. This produced a rating system that could be incorporated into a blood test.
700 healthy 70 year olds had widely varied healthy aging scores. Higher scores were associated with better mental ability, kidney function and longevity over 12 years. Low scores were linked to Alzheimer’s.
According to Timmons, “This is the first blood test of its kind that has shown that the same set of molecules are regulated in both the blood and the brain regions associated with dementia, and it can help contribute to a dementia diagnosis. This also provides strong evidence that dementia in humans could be called a type of ‘accelerated ageing’ or ‘failure to activate the healthy aging program’.”
Tel Aviv University Professor Eytan Ruppin‘s lab has developed an algorithm to predict which genes can be “turned off” to create the same anti-aging effect as calorie restriction.
“Most algorithms try to find drug targets that kill cells to treat cancer or bacterial infections,” said Keren Yizhak, lead researcher. “Our algorithm is the first in our field to look for drug targets not to kill cells, but to transform them from a diseased state into a healthy one.”
Professor Ruppin is a leader in genomic scale metabolic monitoring, which describes the metabolism of living cells. Yizhak’s “metabolic transformation algorithm” can take information about any two metabolic states and predict environmental or genetic changes required to go from one to the other.
Scientists studying longevity have begun using powerful genomic technologies, basic molecular research, and, most important, data on small, genetically isolated communities of people to gain increased insight into the maladies of old age and how they might be avoided.