A team of British scientists has identified a group of key anti-aging genes that may be useful potential targets for new anti-aging therapies.
Researchers at King's College London and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute discovered a number of “aging” genes that can be switched on and off by natural processes, influencing the rate a person ages as well as longevity.
The study also suggests these processes -- affected by such factors as diet, lifestyle and environment – are likely to start at an early age and continue through a person's life. The researchers said they could be used as potential “markers” of biological aging and in the future could be possible targets for anti-aging therapies.
The study, published in the journal Public Library of Science Genetics, involved genetic analyses of 172 twins-- aged 32 to 80. The researchers examined changes in the twins' DNA in relation to chronological age. They identified 490 age-related genetic changes. They also analyzed DNA modifications in age-related traits and found that changes in four genes relate to cholesterol, lung function and maternal longevity.
The researchers findings suggest while many age-related genetic changes happen naturally as a person ages, some changes may be initiated early in life.
'We found that epigenetic changes associate with age related traits that have previously been used to define biological age,” said lead researcher Dr. Jordana Bell from King's College London. “'We identified many age-related epigenetic changes, but four seemed to impact the rate of healthy aging and potential longevity and we can use these findings as potential markers of aeing.”
Tim Spector, a King's College co-researcher, added: “This study is the first glimpse of the potential that large twin studies have to find the key genes involved in aging, how they can be modified by lifestyle and start to develop anti-aging therapies. The future will be very exciting for age research.”