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.

Certain Ethnic Groups May Epigenetically Age Slower

October 4, 2016 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Scientists have been curious about whether race or ethnicity directly impact molecular markers of aging. Could people of certain race be more likely to age faster or slower? A group of researchers from UCLA conducted a study that was the first of its kind, demonstrating that Latinos actually age more slowly than other ethnic groups. On average, Latinos live three years longer than Caucasians. Even though Latinos are shown to have longer lives, they actually experience a greater rate of [more…]

Can Your Age Influence the Epigenetic Effects of Exercise?

September 27, 2016 Bailey Kirkpatrick

We all know the extensive benefits of exercise: work out to stave off disease, improve mental acuity, lose weight, reduce stress, and so on. But even with all these benefits, there are still some questions surrounding the molecular causes that underlie them. Epigenetics has been particularly helpful in gaining new insights into the wide range of health benefits of exercise. Recently, a study showed that exercise could epigenetically keep the brain healthy by boosting the production of a protein called [more…]

Menopause and Insomnia Might Epigenetically Speed Up Aging

September 13, 2016 Bailey Kirkpatrick

For years, scientists have disagreed on whether menopause causes aging or aging leads to menopause, giving rise to a “which came first” debate. New epigenetic research may help settle this long-standing disagreement, offering evidence that menopause might actually make a woman age faster. Two recent UCLA studies show that menopause and its common side effect – insomnia – may accelerate aging. This could potentially increase a woman’s risk for diseases related to aging and possibly lead to an earlier death. [more…]

Arthritic Joints May Need Different Treatments Due to Diverse Epigenetic Signatures

July 19, 2016 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Arthritis is a widespread, debilitating disease characterized by inflammation of the joints. It affects at least 52 million adults in the United States – that’s more than 1 out of every 5 people, according to the CDC. Although medication has improved in recent years, the diversity in pathogenic pathways in certain types of arthritis, for example, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), makes it difficult to pinpoint and alleviate pain in specific joints. Often times, clinical trials for drug treatments focus on alleviating [more…]

Could Epigenetics Rescue Cognitive Impairment Caused by Getting Old?

May 10, 2016 Bailey Kirkpatrick

As we get older, our cognitive ability declines, especially our memory. Although aging-related cognitive impairment occurs naturally, humans have been fascinated since ancient times with uncovering a “fountain of youth” to ensure that our beauty, minds, and youthful qualities stay with us forever. What if we could stave off or protect our brain function as we age? With new research in epigenetics, we may be closer to finding out what’s behind memory loss and cognitive impairment. A study published in [more…]

Histone Modifications Reveal Further Insight into the Process of Aging

February 23, 2016 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Epigenetic research on the potential molecular causes of aging has piqued the curiosity of many people who want to know if it’s possible to slow aging or, perhaps, stop it altogether. The process of aging comes along with physiological changes that decrease the body’s ability to repair tissue and increase vulnerability to metabolic diseases. Overall, metabolic activity levels are reduced and missteps in gene activity regulation occur more often as one ages. In a new article published in EMBO Reports, [more…]

ChIP Reveals Unexpected Insight into Flatworm Tissue Regeneration and Histone Modifications

January 19, 2016 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Planaria, or flatworms, are often used as a model organism to investigate the fascinating process of how tissues and organs can regenerate. The flatworm has numerous stem cells called neoblasts and, when it’s injured, this intriguing creature can actually restore its own body parts. Researchers conducted the study at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in the lab of Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado, Ph.D., a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. In two related studies, they examined stem cell differentiation and the [more…]

Histone Modifications and Epigenetic Regulation Could Hold the Key to Reversing Aging

September 8, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Epigenetics has numerous connections to the process of aging, research hinting at the association between longevity and factors such as transcriptome length and DNA methylation patterns. Clearly, understanding the molecular controls of aging proves to be an intriguing endeavor as we try to interpret the clues of how we might slow down and perhaps even reverse aging. Although research has a long way to go before we can expect anything akin to a fountain of youth, studies are offering new [more…]

Bisulfite Sequencing of Ancient DNA May Lead to Clues about Old Populations

June 9, 2015 Bailey Kirkpatrick

For the first time, anthropologists from The University of Texas at Austin have shown that epigenetic tags on DNA, such as DNA methylation, can be successfully detected in the remains of ancient human DNA using bisulfite sequencing. These results can help progress future studies to enhance our understanding of disease and famine experienced by those from ancient times. Epigenetic research assesses various chemical marks made to DNA which do not alter the underlying genetic code, but impact how certain genes [more…]

Computer Algorithm Uses Epigenetics to Identify “Aging Genes”

May 21, 2014 Bailey Kirkpatrick

Restricting calorie consumption without malnutrition has been shown to prolong lifespan in various species, including yeast, worms, flies, monkeys, and humans. Although the underlying mechanism is not yet known, an advanced computer algorithm sheds light on the concept and potential causes. At Tel Aviv University’s Blavatnik School of Computer Science, Keren Yizhak and her colleagues developed something called a genome-scale metabolic model (GSMM), creating a computer algorithm that predicts which genes can be “turned off” to produce the same anti-aging [more…]

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