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Oct 29, 2020

New ‘epigenetic’ clock provides insight into how the human brain ages

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics, life extension, neuroscience

While our circadian body clock dictates our preferred rhythm of sleep or wakefulness, a relatively new concept—the epigenetic clock—could inform us about how swiftly we age, and how prone we are to diseases of old age.

People age at different rates, with some individuals developing both characteristics and diseases related to aging earlier in life than others. Understanding more about this so-called ‘biological age’ could help us learn more about how we can prevent diseases associated with age, such as . Epigenetic markers control the extent to which genes are switched on and off across the different cell-types and tissues that make up a . Unlike our , these epigenetic marks change over time, and these changes can be used to accurately predict biological age from a DNA .

Now, scientists at the University of Exeter have developed a new specifically for the . As a result of using human tissue samples, the new clock is far more accurate than previous versions, that were based on blood samples or other tissues. The researchers hope that their new clock, published in Brain and funded by Alzheimer’s Society, will provide insight into how accelerated aging in the brain might be associated with brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

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