How long will we live?  Here's how the "Aging Clock" works

How long will we live? Here’s how the “Aging Clock” works

Scientists have been developing instruments called “old clocks” for years.

Photo: Rodolfo Barreto/Unsplash

If someone asks you, “How old are you?” , you automatically calculate the answer from the day you were born. But scientists have discovered that in addition to our own time, it is possible to measure another type related to the health of your organs: biological age.

To reveal this, scientists have worked for years to develop tools called “aging clocks,” capable of assessing the state of the human body’s organs and estimating how many healthy years a person has left.

However, it seems that making this calculation is not as simple as it seems. Therefore, the accuracy of each instrument tested varied widely. Learn about the ancient clocks we know today.

Watches that work with blood and infections

The DNAm PhenoAge biological clock was introduced in 2018. It was created by Steve Horvath, Morgan Levine and other scientists using data collected from thousands of people in the United States after years of study.

According to this watch, if you are older than the chronology, you will be faster than average. For example, your one-year age in chronological order may represent a 9% increase in mortality, as well as an increase in the likelihood of developing cancer, diabetes, or heart disease.

Another type of watch, also developed by Horvath, is the GrimAge. The scientist used the clock on his blood samples, and obtained the result of a biological age compatible with the chronological age, two years ago. But six months ago, the test was retaken and Horvath’s biological age is now four years older than his chronological age. This does not mean that he “lost” four years of his life, but that he thinks that he is aging faster than he should.

There’s also iAge, from Edifice Health, which provides age based on the body’s immune health and inflammation levels, using reference values ​​for each age. This type of ‘circadian clock’ predicts chronic inflammatory diseases, longevity and immunosuppression, that is, age-related deterioration and inadequate immune system function. The scientists used data from the Stanford 1000 Immunomes Project, which collected blood samples for nine years from 1,001 people ages 8 to 96.

How are old clocks made?

As we age, patterns in our DNA known as methyl groups – the name of a substance that combines one carbon atom with three hydrogens – change. The exact cause is unknown. Most clocks in aging estimate biological age from these pattern changes.

But that’s not the only way it works: Other gadgets like the speedometer work, keeping up with the pace of aging; Or even an estimate of how old one’s body has aged over the years. Some watches are made for specific organs or different types of animals.

From chronological to biological clocks

The first aging watch was developed in 2011 by Steve Horvath of the University of California. He volunteered to participate in a study with his twin brother, Marcus, in an effort to understand if there were any indications that would explain the two brothers’ different sexual orientations.

Although he didn’t find anything to that effect, Steve discovered another fact: that methyl patterns can predict people’s age in years, that is, in chronological order, even though the estimates have diverged by about five years.

In 2013, Horvath developed the Horvath watch of the same name, which is also called the “Pantisio” watch and is able to estimate the age of any organ in the body. He did this from 8,000 samples representing 51 body tissues and cell types – data he used to train an algorithm and predict a person’s chronological age from a cell sample.

It was a remarkable achievement, but it did not impress the scientific community; After all, it was only working to prove someone’s chronological age. So in 2018, Horvath teamed up with Morgan Levine and other colleagues to create a clock based on nine biomarkers, such as blood glucose and white blood cell levels, as well as the chronological age itself, to tell the biological age of each human body.

This answer will be more interesting because it will help measure the overall health of the body, the number of healthy years a person has remaining, how organs respond to the environment, and provides information for care such as anti-aging medications and changes in habits. .

It still lacks subtlety, but we know the habits that are outdated

Although some use the decrease in biological life years to correlate with supplement use, in many cases these changes can be explained by considering clocks to be error-prone.

In every area of ​​the body where methyl groups bind to DNA, small changes can occur over time and cause errors in estimations. To improve this, scientists are working to “crack” existing clocks and compare them to each other in order to build better equipment.

Currently, blood pressure and cholesterol tests serve as indicators of general health. In addition, exercising, eating healthy and avoiding drinking and smoking are the most traditional ways to strive for a balanced and long life. Recent research from Oxford University in the UK found that excessive alcohol consumption speeds up the biological clock and causes premature aging.

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