How healthy are you for your age?

May 22, 2013

On May 22, JoVE will publish details of a technique to measure the health of human genetic material in relation to a patient's age. The method is demonstrated by the laboratory of Dr. Gil Atzmon at New York's Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Dr. Atzmon hopes that the dissemination of this technique will lead to the development of a "genetic thermometer" to assess a patient's health in relation to other individuals of the same age.

The JoVE publication will feature a technique that measures telomere length. Recently, telomeres have gained attention because they serve as "caps" to chromosomes. As such, they mark the ends of genetic material and ensure that genes do not degrade as cells divide. Starting with the first replication of DNA and division of a fertilized egg, shorten because the is imperfect. Certain organs, like the stomach or skin, are composed of tissues that reconstitute themselves frequently. In these organs, and in young individuals, the extends telomeres with each division, negating chromosomal shortening that would otherwise occur. Telomerase activity declines as people age, and as a result telomeres shorten and can be responsible for age related afflictions and some cancers. Overall health can impact how quickly these telomeres degrade.

The video will load shortly
Credit: JOVE

"Think of telomere length as though it was a . It measures the health of your ," Dr. Atzmon explains. "It tells you how fit you are in relation to the age you are. If you have longer telomeres you are in good shape, if you have shorter telomeres you are less fit for your age and are not in ."

Dr. Atzmon hopes that publication of this article will impact the ageing community by classifying health relative to an individual's age. "I published in JoVE because I want more people to use the technique. As we [the ] collect more data, we can build a better index of age and health by population, and more accurately place a patient on the right spot in a continuum."

Adoption of this technique will allow clinicians to monitor a patient's health as they are treated, by comparing telomere degradation of a sick patient to other patients with that disease and to determine if treatment is slowing degradation. Dr. Kira Henderson, JoVE Editor and Director of Review, explains, "Telomere length and telomerase function impacts several realms of biological and medical research- from preventative aging models to cancer treatments. Maintaining the telomere is a pre-requisite to extending life and improving long-term health. It is our hope that the application of this JoVE video-article will elucidate relationships between disease state and telomere function and encourage advancement in this important field of study."

Explore further: Telomere shortening affects muscular dystrophy gene

More information: Atzmon et. al.; www.jove.com/video/50246/telom … tivity-yin-yang-cell

Related Stories

Telomere shortening affects muscular dystrophy gene

May 6, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) is a genetic disorder that causes the muscles of the upper body to waste away. It is unusual in that symptoms do not usually appear until sufferers are in their ...

Link between faster 'biological' aging and risk of developing age-related diseases

March 27, 2013
An international team of scientists led by the University of Leicester has found new evidence that links faster 'biological' ageing to the risk of developing several age-related diseases - including heart disease, multiple ...

New study finds length of DNA strands can predict life expectancy

March 10, 2013
Can the length of strands of DNA in patients with heart disease predict their life expectancy? Researchers from the Intermountain Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City, who studied the DNA of more ...

Blood chromosome differences are linked to pancreatic cancer

October 23, 2012
A new study shows that a blood marker is linked to pancreatic cancer, according to a study published today by scientists at the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center and Mayo Clinic.

Researchers identify new potential target for cancer therapy

April 19, 2013
Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found that alternative splicing – a process that allows a single gene to code for multiple proteins – appears to be a new potential target for anti-telomerase cancer ...

Recommended for you

Molecular hitchhiker on human protein signals tumors to self-destruct

July 24, 2017
Powerful molecules can hitch rides on a plentiful human protein and signal tumors to self-destruct, a team of Vanderbilt University engineers found.

New vaccine production could improve flu shot accuracy

July 24, 2017
A new way of producing the seasonal flu vaccine could speed up the process and provide better protection against infection.

Researchers develop new method to generate human antibodies

July 24, 2017
An international team of scientists has developed a method to rapidly produce specific human antibodies in the laboratory. The technique, which will be described in a paper to be published July 24 in The Journal of Experimental ...

A sodium surprise: Engineers find unexpected result during cardiac research

July 20, 2017
Irregular heartbeat—or arrhythmia—can have sudden and often fatal consequences. A biomedical engineering team at Washington University in St. Louis examining molecular behavior in cardiac tissue recently made a surprising ...

Want to win at sports? Take a cue from these mighty mice

July 20, 2017
As student athletes hit training fields this summer to gain the competitive edge, a new study shows how the experiences of a tiny mouse can put them on the path to winning.

'Smart' robot technology could give stroke rehab a boost

July 19, 2017
Scientists say they have developed a "smart" robotic harness that might make it easier for people to learn to walk again after a stroke or spinal cord injury.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.