Speed-of-ageing genes discovered
Published on 20 April 2012 10:30 AM
Scientists have discovered four genes that help control how fast we age, potentially paving the way for new anti-ageing drugs.
It has long been established that 'epigenetic' changes - chemical alterations to DNA made by external factors in the environment - are important to ageing. These environmental factors include diet and lifestyle factors.
But now researchers have uncovered four genes which help determine how and at what speed these changes occur.
The findings are reported in the online journal Public Library of Science Genetics.
Dr Jordana Bell, one of the study authors from King's College London, said: 'We found that epigenetic changes associate with age-related traits that have previously been used to define biological age.
'We identified many age-related epigenetic changes, but four seemed to impact the rate of healthy ageing and potential longevity and we can use these findings as potential markers of ageing.
'These results can help understand the biological mechanisms underlying healthy ageing and age-related disease, and future work will explore how environmental effects can affect these epigenetic changes.'
Copyright Press Association 2012