~ Blood Test Could Tell Body's True Age

Evening Standard - London, 07-26-06

Revolutionary blood test could tell you exactly how old your internal organs are, scientists said today.

By taking a genetic "fingerprint", researchers at Stanford University say they can reveal the true age of our bodies. They hope the test could tell patients of impending problems as well as let older people know if their organs are healthy for transplant.

Professor Stuart Kim, who led the the research, said: "We've found something that is at the core of aging. People age at different rates, especially with regard to muscular aging. Some remain fit and strong, whereas others become frail and weak."

His team studied the genetic signatures of muscle tissue from a range of participants aged between 16 and 89.

The team analysed the activity of thousands of genes in 81 muscle samples.

They found a set of 250 genes whose activity goes markedly up or down with age.

When they compared the activity of these genes with the muscle fitness of individuals, measured by the size of their muscle fibres, they found that the genetic profile, rather than a person's age in years, was a more accurate indicator of fitness.

Professor Kim hopes his test could one day be used to identify donor organs that are normally ruled out because of the donor's age but may actually be in good working order.

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