Scientists from three institutions say they have developed a simple blood test – all that’s required is a single drop of blood – that can predict the likelihood of disease in older persons. The test is aimed at those who are 65 and older and the researchers think it can predict the likelihood of Alzheimer’s Disease, among other illnesses.
A joint project involving scientists from Kings College London, the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and Duke University in the USA, the researchers identified a range of genes that must be in healthy condition in order for that person to have a greater likelihood of avoiding disease. They then developed a method of testing a drop of blood that shows how particular genes are doing.
From all of that they came up with what they term a ‘healthy gene score.’ The say that after seven years of testing and research they’ve found that the lower the score result was the higher the likelihood that person will develop an illness. In essence their test reveals the condition of the genes in question and determines if someone is ageing prematurely.
“Most people accept that all 60-year-olds are not the same, but there has been no reliable test for underlying ‘biological age’,” lead author James Timmons said in a statement. “Our discovery provides the first robust molecular ‘signature’ of biological age in humans and should be able to transform the way that ‘age’ is used to make medical decisions.
“This includes identifying those more likely to be at risk of Alzheimer’s, as catching those at ‘early’ risk is key to evaluating potential treatments,” he added. “This also provides strong evidence that dementia in humans could be called a type of ‘accelerated ageing’”
Published in the journal Genome Biology, the study may open the door to determining a person’s ‘biological age’ and identifying early what treatments would help that person stay healthy longer. Their research continues and it is unclear when such a test will be available for doctors to use.