People have always been interested in better anti-aging medicines, and it’s always seemed a bit like science fiction. But the good news is that, with epigenetics, the future is finally here.
In this article:
- The Epigenetic Key
- It Takes Everything into Account
- It Has Concrete Things to Measure
- How Well Are You Aging?
What is Epigenetics and Why is it Key?
The name itself simply means something, “in addition to genetics.” Most of us are aware of genetics and the fact that code is written into our DNA that affects much of our growth, development, and susceptibility to disease.
Scientists have been aware of DNA since the late 1800s, and the truly ground-breaking work in the field came in the 1950s when scientists discovered and validated the structure of DNA.
But in some ways, being able to read the genetic code has been a bit like unearthing a complete and important ancient document, but in a language, we can’t read. It’s valuable and important, but without the key, we’re not able to truly appreciate what it says.
The Epigenetic Key
Epigenetics goes a step further than simply reading the code; it allows us to study how that code works through DNA expression. DNA expression is the actual outworking of any piece of our genetic code. When a gene “expresses,” it sends instructions and a protein to the cells, telling them to do something (or stop doing it).
Epigenetics studies how inherited alterations to genetic information actually make a change and what interventions can promote or stop DNA expression. We can’t rewrite our DNA without considerable danger: think of the many chromosome and gene disorders and abnormalities, where even a small change has major, life-altering consequences. But what we can do is to intervene at the level of genetic expression, turning off unwanted expressions while turning on others.
It Takes Everything into Account
Genetics could never explain everything, precisely because it only considers one aspect of the complicated process that is human aging. Our genes are a significant factor in aging and all the diseases and disorders that come with it, but we’ve long known that social, environmental, and lifestyle factors can also play a part. What we haven’t known is just how big a part they could play. Epigenetics gives us the answer.
Epigenetics doesn’t just take the genetic code into account but also considers how your daily routine, dietary habits, stresses, and environment work with genetic information to influence the function of each type of cell during development (or disease). As we learn what’s actually causing our cells to age and diseases to develop, we can create interventions that stop issues of aging from even happening rather than waiting for a problem to manifest before we fight back.
It Has Concrete Things to Measure
We know that specific genes can cause susceptibility to certain diseases, like cancer or Alzheimer’s. What we don’t know is how to work with that information. In the past, the way to deal with these diseases of aging was to note the presence of the genes and then do nothing other than be more vigilant for the first signs. But epigenetics takes the guesswork out of the process because it has something concrete to measure.
This is the primary way that a gene’s activity is adjusted. It happens when a group of molecules known as a methyl group gets added to a gene. This methyl group sits where the gene would typically accept a protein that facilitates communication with the cells. Thus the methyl group blocks that transmission and the gene’s expression. This can be both good or bad, depending on the gene and what it’s trying to do.
When you have a healthy pattern of methylation and demethylation, everything functions as it should. Epigenetic testing can identify typical methylation markers and show quickly and clearly whether a drug, lifestyle change or environmental change is affecting how well we age.
Histones are proteins that wrap around our DNA and assist in the process of copying. When these are transferred the right way and operating correctly, they make for healthy DNA copying. When they aren’t doing their job, DNA can be copied incorrectly, leading to serious issues of aging and disease. The way a histone behaves can activate or deactivate the expression of certain genes, and epigenetics can measure this.
How It All Helps
How is having something to measure crucial in the fight against aging? At the research level, it allows us to get fast feedback about the effectiveness of any given treatment. Even at the individual level, it will enable us to see how changes to our lifestyle are affecting our aging. We’ve long known that certain lifestyle modifications are associated with long-term good health and better aging, and now we can see more clearly exactly how these interventions are helping at the molecular level.
It’s Decreases the Burden of Disease
We can probably all agree that a longer life isn’t any good if it’s plagued by diseases and disorders that rob it of all joy. We now understand a lot about the epigenetic mechanisms behind many of the diseases of aging and anti-aging medicines are already in clinical trials. Many of these trials are using azacitidine, which stops DNA methylation and causes silenced genes to “turn back on.” Others use histone modifiers that stop the activity of histones that would otherwise “turn off” crucial genes.
These treatments are already underway to activate tumor-suppressing genes that stop cancer and stop the intrauterine stresses that make a baby more likely to develop Type II diabetes later in life. Similar studies are looking into how epigenetics can stop the chronic immune conditions that cause arthritis and put an end to neurological disorders.
How Well Are You Aging?
Epigenetics is the future of anti-aging medicine, but you don’t have to wait to get a head start on healthy aging. With the TruAge testing kit, you can understand your personal biological clock and how fast it’s running so you can take concrete action to improve it.
To learn more about epigenetics or get your TruAge kit, visit TruDiagnostics today and get started turning back the clock.