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These Genes Could Be Driving Aging

Posted on 27 October 2015

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Credit: Javier Prazak

Credit: Javier Prazak

We’re still in the dark about the aging process, but efforts have been stepped up to map the genes changes coinciding with age. The biggest tally yet has now revealed almost 1500 culprits linked to aging. 

In the past we’ve began to understand more about aging through diseases that replicate some of its effects, like progeria. These have revealed some of the core elements that can go wrong with time, and how they might do so. We need more information however; lots more.

A larger map than ever before

A new study has addressed some of this knowledge gap by putting forward the biggest list yet of genes linked to the aging process. The researchers analysed 12 studies with 14,983 people between 40-70, by taking blood tests and checking gene activity. They obtained results by measuring RNA, which can tell you which genes are active and at what levels.

“RNA is quite dynamic, since it’s responsive to processes in our tissues and cells. If we get sick, say with the influenza virus, or, in this case, if we get old, and we’ve had a more challenging lifestyle or been exposed to things in the environment, our RNAs react and can be found at different levels.”

The research came across nearly 1500 genes at play, and many of them are novel targets. One new area is glycosaminoglycans, which decrease with age and are involved with wound healing, cartilage and nerve development. Maintenance of youthful gene activity in these areas could therefore prove beneficial. 

We don’t age the same

The main study involved mostly people with European ancestry. While the study did expand and look at various racial groups, there were mixed findings. Native Americans had 71% similarity, Hispanic individuals had 74%, but African-Americans had only 24% correlation. This reveals that different groups may undergo different gene changes as they age, which could pose a problem for solutions like drug development. 

Read more at TIME

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