Date Published: 7 February 2010
Ageing on the inside – genetic link to biological age found
New research – funded partly by the British Heart Foundation and published today in Nature Genetics has identified a genetic variant linked to biological ageing in humans.
The team looked at the parts of our DNA which get shorter with cell ageing, called ‘telomeres'.
Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the BHF said:
" BHF Professor Nilesh Samani and the team found clues as to why some people are born with shorter telomeres, giving them ‘biologically older’ cells than others.
It’s not clear yet, but it’s possible that shorter telomeres could contribute to some people having increased risk of diseases linked to ageing, such as heart disease.
Understanding how our cells age is an important step in our quest for better ways to prevent and treat heart disease. Perhaps in the future one of the ways we try to reduce the risk of, or treat, heart disease would be to use an ‘anti-ageing’ approach for our arteries.”
In recent years other BHF researchers have discovered that people with severe heart disease have shortened telomeres with a biological age up to 40 years older than their real age. However they’ve also shown that statins – taken by lots of people with heart disease – may be able to slow down cell aging by putting the brakes on telomere loss.
Statement issued in response to new research study published in Nature Genetics: Common variants near TERC are associated with mean telomere length by Professor Nilesh Samini et al. Published online by the Nature Genetics 7 February 2010.
Source: The British Heart Foundation.