Aging is a normal process linked to specific patterns and changes in the epigenome, particularly DNA methylation. Harnessing epigenetic mechanisms and understanding the epigenetic clock might enable us to slow or reduce human aging in the future, especially as scientific research reveals new associations and insights.
After DNA methylation patterns have been established during embryogenesis, researchers investigate how they are maintained, and how the environment can influence changes to marks on top of DNA during one’s lifespan.
Over the last few decades, the study of epigenetics has broadened our understanding of how the environment affects human development and disease. But, there’s still a lot we don’t know about this relationship. There have been several epigenome-wide association studies (EWAS) that have helped scientists identify altered methylation patterns. However, the challenge lies in interpreting the results obtained from these studies. Now, a new study from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) hopes to assist researchers in their biological [more…]
You’ve heard the old saying that age is just a number. But what if you could lower that number by about 30 years? Epigenetic researchers from the Babraham Institute in the UK say it’s possible. What’s more, they have proven it experimentally, using a new method based on Shinya Yamanaka’s Nobel Prize-winning technique to create stem cells. The study, recently published in eLife, demonstrates how older skin cells can be restored and rejuvenated by erasing some of the genetic marks that make them [more…]
Most people don’t think about their bones until maybe they break one. But breaking a bone, especially when you are older, could signify that your bones are weak. As we age, our bones become thinner, and our risk for diseases like osteoporosis is higher. This is because the stem cells responsible for keeping bone tissue dense and strong become impaired as we age. Research over the past few years has shown that aging is a process that involves epigenetic factors, [more…]
Not everyone ages gracefully. That’s true for people who don’t take care of themselves as adults, but it’s also true for someone whose health was jeopardized at a young age from contact with something harmful, like air pollution or poor diet. In particular, smoking exposure during early development has been linked with numerous adverse health conditions, and now a new study shows that it, as well as other harmful pollutants, can cause advanced biological aging. Early life, beginning in the [more…]
There are a lot of medications and techniques available for relieving pain today, but getting the right ones that work best for a patient is still challenging. First and foremost, a physician needs an accurate description of the pain to help treat it. However, communicating the location and intensity of pain isn’t that straightforward for many patients, even when asked detailed questions. That’s because pain symptoms are unique to each person and subjective. What may be considered unbearable to one [more…]
One unfortunate side effect of aging is loss of brain function. For most people, it starts off here and there with some “forgetfulness” or a modest decline in other thinking skills. But brain loss can be progressive as we age and lead to more problematic conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. One possible key to maintaining brain functioning and staying sharp-minded could be as simple as living a varied and active life. While this notion isn’t new, current research is [more…]
Aging is a fact of life that cannot be avoided. From the moment we are born, every part of us starts to age, and slowly over time, the cells and tissues in our bodies progressively decline in their ability to repair and restore themselves. Our eyes get hit even harder by this occurrence, especially nowadays, as our daily routines include more screen time and less sleep. But what if the aging process could be stopped or, better yet, reversed? In [more…]
Why do some people stay healthy throughout their lives and others don’t? While we all age, we don’t all age in the same ways or at the same rate. Epigenetic modifications are largely responsible for this phenomenon, with DNA methylation being the most studied modification. An Epigenetic Clock is a sophisticated way of tracking our “real” age by measuring methylation or demethylation at particular DNA sites (Kanherkar, 2014). The uses for epigenetic clocks are manifold. The most obvious use comes [more…]
Aging is a universal human reality. Concern regarding aging—and a collective aversion to it—has even generated entire industry segments dedicated to anti-aging products, from expensive supplements through pricey lotions. People are afraid of the issues that can come up with advanced age: cancer, cognitive decline, wrinkles and age spots, mobility issues, sexual dysfunction, and any number of other impediments to daily life and ongoing vigor. Scientists want to understand the way aging is reflected in cells, for two key reasons. [more…]
Late onset Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of the disease, which affects over 35 million people around the world with crippling dementia. Recent evidence suggests that early intervention can help slow down the memory loss—one of Alzheimer’s hallmark symptoms. Earlier intervention can occur with earlier detection, and so researchers have been focusing on finding minimally invasive ways to diagnose the disease before the severe dementia fully kicks in. A recent study to this effect was published in Clinical [more…]