Explain the Science
Epigenetics refers to heritable changes in gene expression that do not alter the primary DNA sequence.
In other words; ways that outside forces regularly change which of your genes are being used, and by how much.
Epigenetic markers are molecules we can read to learn more about what epigenetic changes have been made.
DNA methylation is a type of epigenetic marker, which can change gene expression.
It consists of a small molecule – a Methyl Group – attaching to specific sites on the DNA. We can look at patterns of Methylation to learn a lot about a person’s health and aging.
Biological Age is a measurement of your body’s approximate cellular & molecular age, independent from chronological age. It is a number that can change due to lifestyle and other health factors, along with inheritence and pressures during childhood and much more.
We look at Biological Age measured by methylation, because research has shown it is the #1 most accurate and most predictive measure of future disease occurrence, frailty, and can even estimate the time-to-death. That predictive power makes it highly useful both in research and in individual longevity/health tracking.
Methylation (and therefore Biological Age measured by methylation) has been observed to change in response to a wide variety of factors.
Even in the womb, our mother’s actions and habits influence our initial epigenetic patterns, and the choices we make throughout our life continue to change it.
Some of the major factors include:
And much more…
Even long-term high altitude living has been found to make epigenetic changes!
Many ongoing research projects are focusing on the extent nutrition, exercise, medication, stress, and sleep can change methylation, since those have already been confirmed as major influencers, and are things the average person can control.
DNA tests check what genes you have, but doesn’t tell you if those genes are being used or not. Epigenetic tests look at markers that change how your genes are turned on or off – essentially checking what genes your body is putting to use.
Epigenetic testing can also show how your gene expression has changed over time, and can estimate current predispositions toward developing certain diseases, based on gene expression.
An easier analogy:
It’s like looking at a string of lights – a DNA test can identify what genes you have – “20% of these bulbs are orange, 10% are green, 50% are blue…” but it won’t tell you whether any of those lights are ON, or if they’re burnt out.
An Epigenetic test looks on which lights are on or off – which ones are actually in use.
Another way to look at it is thinking of a recipe book. If your DNA strand was the entire recipe book, and a gene was a single recipe, then epigenetic markers like DNA methylation would be like sticky notes, or notes penciled into the margins that tell the reader to skip a step, add more of something, or to give on up on this recipe entirely. Those notes can be both added and removed. Sometimes adding more notes can ‘improve’ a recipe, while other times the notes mess with the original recipe too much and need to be removed for the best end result.
The base recipe – your DNA – is never changed. Epigenetics just adds notes on top.
We look at around 900,000 methylation points – the highest available to the public sector right now.
We recommend folks wait 4-6 months between using the TruAge Complete Collection, to allow time for methylation changes to occur. This is the timeframe most useful to the average person.
In the instance of massive lifestyle shifts, we have seen significant changes occur to Biological Age readouts as rapidly as 8 weeks.
For TruAge PACE, focusing on the Dunedin Pace of Aging measurement, you can test as often as every 3-4 months to see how your lifestyle is affecting your curent rate of aging.
How often you decide to test is ultimately up to you.
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TruDiagnostic is an epigenetic testing laboratory, specializing in Biological Aging based on DNA Methylation.
We offer testing for clinical practitioners and their patients, and recently opened our service up to the public.
Our laboratory also works with academic research institutions to further develop the field of Epigenetics.
TruDiagnostic is dedicated to utilizing validated research and rigorous scientific standards to expand our knowledge and analysis into Epigenetics and Aging.
We also participate in human clinical trials and research studies, using our validated Biological Age test (TruAge) to verify claims from interventional products.
Our goal for the future is to continue to develop our DNA Methylation analytical ability until we can successfully identify markers that can be used by physicians to diagnose age-related diseases before they show outward symptoms, and let them begin early interventions.
TruAge is an epigenetic test developed by TruDiagnostic and top epigenetic researchers.
We use methylation markers and the latest generation technology to measure your biological age.
We currently offer two TruAge tests: The Complete Collection, which includes our entire suite of epigenetic reports, and TruAge PACE, which only includes our Pace of Aging metric, and Telomere Length.
You will be mailed a TruAge Sample Collection Kit.
Once you receive the kit, follow the instructions inside to register the kit, collect your sample, and use the prepaid envelope to mail it to our lab.
Once our lab receives it, within 2-3 weeks we will have finished extracting the DNA and analyzing your Methylation to create in-depth reports.
When the reports are done, we will email you to let you know, with a link to access them.
You can access your finished reports at any time, through our web portal.
It depends on which blood collection method you chose!
A kit with our standard blood spot card collection contains:
1 instruction guide
1 FTA Whatman Mini blood spot card
2 fingertip lancets
1 dry guaze bandage
1 sanitizing wet wipe
1 adhesive bandage
1 biohazard bag
1 prepaid envalope to return your sample to our lab.
A kit with TASSO blood collection contains:
A Tasso Unit
EDTA collection tube
Envelope with a prepaid return label
Your sample will not be processed until registration is complete. When your unregistered sample is received at the lab, an email titled “Action Required” will be sent to the email address provided when the order was placed. This email will contain your sample’s barcode, which you can use to register online. In order to register, you will need to either create a new account or log in to an existing TruDiagnostic account. Keep in mind that an account is not automatically created when an order is placed.
We perform all epigenetic testing at our in-house private lab in Lexington, KY.
We do not use any third-party testing facilities
We do not share individual-level epigenetic data or survey responses with third parties without asking for and receiving your explicit permission to do so, except as required by law.
If you have given consent for us to do so, we may include your epigenetic data and survey responses, stripped of your name or other identifying information, in aggregate data that we publish in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
Aggregate data is data from multiple users that has been combined and striped of identifying information to minimize the possibility of exposing individual-level information.
Regardless of your consent status, we may also include your epigenetic data in the aggregate data that we disclose to third-party research partners who may not publish that information.
For full details of our policies on information disclosure, read our Privacy Statement.
Our laboratory and data handling is HIPAA compliant. Our laboratory is also CLIA certified.
To prevent unauthorized access or disclosure, to maintain data accuracy, and to ensure the appropriate use of information, TruDiagnostic uses a range of physical, technical, and administrative measures to safeguard your personal information, in accordance with current technological and industry standards.
All connections to and from our website are encrypted using Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology.
When your sample arrives at our laboratory, it is de-identified and tracked only with the barcode, to minimize the number of people who can connect a particular sample to a specific person.
Please recognize that protecting your personal information is also your responsibility. We ask you to be responsible for safeguarding your password and other authentication information you use to access our services. You should not disclose your authentication information to any third party and should immediately notify TruDiagnostic of any unauthorized use of your password. TruDiagnostic cannot secure personal information that you release on your own or that you request us to release.
We have checkpoints throughout the workflow where we visually inspect samples and determine quality through analytical methods.
After generating the results we use GenomeStudio and BeadArray Control Reporter to conduct a post-scan analysis of every sample, comparing against controls to ensure that the results are reliable.
Every group of samples that we run includes a baseline ‘control’ sample to ensure every round of testing maintains our 99%+ reproducibility.
There are a lot of factors that affect Biological Age.
Some of it is hereditary – passed on from parents. Some of it is the hard-coded aging process in all mammals.
A lot of it is due to environmental pressures and personal choices that you experienced throughout your lifetime. You can read more about what changes Biological Age on our Science page.
Biological Age algorithms to date have only been validated in blood.
The best way for us to obtain sufficient quantities of DNA for our analysis is through a blood sample. While we know that saliva or urine is easier to collect, those methods don’t have the scientific background supporting their use in accurate Biological Age testing. (At least, not at the level of accuracy and precision our laboratory demands)
As a result, we don’t compromise results for easy collection. With our test, we can guarantee accurate and useful results.
Check out our laboratory exploration page! It goes through every single step in our laboratory, from when we first receive your sample to the final report.
The biggest cause of sample failure is either “The customer didn’t provide enough blood and we couldn’t extract enough DNA” or something went wrong during a particularly delicate stage in our lab. (We’re working with markers that are even smaller than DNA, so there’s some ultra-precise steps involved in detecting them)
Our failure rate is extremely low, but if anything were to happen in our lab, we can usually re-do our testing with the remaining sample left over. If there wasn’t enough blood collected the first time for a second attempt at testing, we’re happy to send a new sample collection kit, free of charge.
TruAge is not intended to diagnose any disease.
The test is not meant to tell you anything about your current state of medical health, or to be used to make medical decisions, including whether or not you should take a medication, how much of a medication you should take, or determine any treatment.
Just like a cholesterol test cannot diagnose you with heart disease, an epigenetic test cannot diagnose you with anything either.
The test is designed to provide users with their epigenetic information to inform lifestyle decisions and conversations with their doctor or other healthcare professional.
In addition to Biological Age, we currently offer specific-gene analysis reports on Obesity and Diabetes, and are developing more reports to release in the future.
For that advanced reporting, you will need to involve a healthcare professional. We do this to minimize the risk of misunderstandings about diagnosis.
When you take the test for the first time, you’re joining a dedicated team of research scientists who are constantly analyzing our data for new and relevant results.
Whenever we come out with a new gene report, you’ll be the first to hear about it – and you’ll be able to look at your new reports absolutely free of charge. We retroactively update old reports as we add new epigenetic analysis tools.
As we grow, the value of each test grows as well.
Please note: Our TruAge Complete Collection offers this lifetime guarantee.
TruAge PACE does not.
Using The Kit
First, register your kit.
Then, provide a blood sample into the vial by following the included instructions.
A step-by-step video is available here.
Mail your sample back to us using the prepaid envelope included in every kit.
We will email you when we receive your kit. Once we receive it, 2-3 weeks later you will receive your email letting you know your reports are available via your portal.
In order to register your kit, you will need to either create a new account or log in to an existing TruDiagnostic account. Keep in mind that an account is not automatically created when an order is placed.
We need about 5-7 drops of blood: enough to fill the blood spot card's indicated circle.
It depends on the person – some people have better bloodflow in their fingertips than others.
From start to finish, taking a sample usually only takes about 5-10 minutes. Doing things like some quick jumping jacks beforehand, or massaging your finger to assist bloodflow can speed up the process.
There is a biohazard bag and prepaid return mailer included inside the kit.
Seal your sample in the biohazard bag, then place the bag with your sample into the prepaid envelope.
You can drop it off at any UPS location, or in your own mailbox! The envelope is already pre-addressed and prepaid.
DNA is stable at a wide range of temperatures (4 ºC to – 196 ºC).
Unused kits also are fine to use after a year, even if exposed to temperatures in this range during transit or storage.
Your sample will not be processed until registration is complete.
When your unregistered sample is received at the lab, an email titled “Action Required” will be sent to the email address provided when the order was placed. This email will contain your sample’s barcode, which you can use to register online. In order to register, you will need to either create a new account or log in to an existing TruDiagnostic account. Keep in mind that an account is not automatically created when an order is placed.
You can’t manage what you don’t measure.
Biological age is a leading biometric used to evaluate the risk factor for most age-related diseases and disorders.
By slowing down the progression, and reducing Biological Age, you’re also reducing the risk factor for those things.
You can read much more about how aging and especially accelerating effects the body here.