October 26, 2023 │ TruDiagnostic Media Relations
LEXINGTON, Ky. - A new study by investigators at Brigham and Women's Hospital, and the epigenetic research company TruDiagnostic, may help researchers understand why our bodies are aging on a molecular level.
Age is a major risk factor for many chronic diseases and mortality across the world. Epigenetics (or the way our genes are put into use throughout our bodies) has emerged as a measure to evaluate aging through the development of aging 'clocks'. While previous DNA methylation clocks have estimated the degree of aging in an individual, they haven't been able to explain why someone might have accelerated or decelerated aging outcomes.
"In our research, we set out to create a first-in-class approach to quantify the biological aging process. Aging is a complex process that is influenced by multiple factors. Therefore, we built a robust aging cohort that had available clinical data and combined this with measures of proteins, metabolites, and epigenetics for each individual," explains Dr. Jessica Lasky-Su of Brigham and Women's Hospital.
In a preprint appearing on BioRxiv, researchers shared findings on the development of the new OMICm Age clock. The study, which was led, in part, by Dr. Lasky-Su, showed that the OMICm Age clock was able to predict death with 87% accuracy over 10 years in their aging cohort (study group); outperforming other current methylation clocks and chronological age.
Another development stemming from the OMICm Age study was the creation of methylation algorithms that quantify other important clinical biomarkers. "In order to incorporate important factors of aging into a single diagnostic, we created predictors of metabolites, proteins, and clinical values using epigenetic methylation data. These algorithms provide accurate estimates of important clinical biomarkers, like fasting glucose or triglycerides," explains TruDiagnostic's Head of Bioinformatics, Varun Dwaraka, PhD. "With this information, we can get a much better resolution of the multiple changes that occur with age and we can better understand why people age in different ways."
These scores, termed Epigenetic Biomarker Proxies (EBP) in the paper, will be used in other epigenetic algorithms in the future to add more resolution to other chronic diseases, including neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, and pulmonary diseases outcomes.
"This work is important because it improves our ability to identify major risk factors for age-related diseases. It also provides more understanding of what individual factors and biological processes are contributing to an individual's current biological age," says Dr. Lasky-Su.