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Biotech Medicine Science

Biological Clock Discovered That Measures Ages of Most Human Tissues 70

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-have-the-genes-of-a-97-year-old-man dept.
starr802 writes "A biological clock capable of determining how old different human tissues and cells are has been discovered by a team of researchers from the University of California Los Angeles (abstract). 'To fight aging, we first need an objective way of measuring it. Pinpointing a set of biomarkers that keeps time throughout the body has been a four-year challenge,' Steve Horvath, a professor of human genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and of biostatistics at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health said in a statement. 'My goal in inventing this clock is to help scientists improve their understanding of what speeds up and slows down the human aging process.'"
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Biological Clock Discovered That Measures Ages of Most Human Tissues

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  • Just wind up your biological clocks with "Wind Up"(tm). Our medicine will reset all your biological clocks. Feel young again! ..

    consult your doctor before taking "Wind Up"(tm). Side effects include laughing, loving, and lasciviousness

    • Just wind up your biological clocks with "Wind Up"(tm).

      Try moving your mouse pointer repeatedly clockwise.

      consult your doctor before taking "Wind Up"(tm)

      Doctor who?

    • by Obfuscant (592200)

      Side effects include laughing, loving, and lasciviousness

      And anal seepage. You can't have a drug without that as a side effect.

      Oh, wait, that was Olestra [cspinet.org], a food additive and not a drug.

      • Side effects include laughing, loving, and lasciviousness

        And anal seepage. You can't have a drug without that as a side effect.

        When I was very young, I did get a little anal seepage from time to time.

        REPORT CLOSED: WORKS AS INTENDED

    • by mrego (912393)
      Better than using Diomedian scarlet moss to measure aging time?
    • ...and tumors.

  • by willthiswork89 (2885827) on Monday October 21, 2013 @03:10PM (#45192279)
    If you the TFA you will see at the bottom an interesting note: "In an unexpected finding, the cells of children with progeria, a genetic disorder that causes premature aging, appeared normal and reflected their true chronological age" Doesn't this make the results inconclusive at that point? Since children with this disease age faster than anyone else? If his "clock" was accurate wouldn't these children display clocks point to a much older person?
    • by GerardAtJob (1245980) on Monday October 21, 2013 @03:18PM (#45192391)

      The core discovery is nice, even if their problem isn't the there : Their clock is normal BUT their cells interpret it incorrectly, so the problem could be found elsewhere, like a bad clock multiplier when overclocking your PC (could result with it being slower or faster).

      At least, now you know that the problem is not the "aging flag" itself, but something that's reading it.

      • by mythosaz (572040)

        ...like a bad clock multiplier when overclocking your PC (could result with it being slower or faster)....

        This is Slashdot, sir. Couple you place restate your analogy using cars? Maybe something with transmissions or torque converters?

        • by Megane (129182)
          It's like when you put the gate on your shifter upside-down. So instead of first gear, you get fourth. And reverse? Ouuuuuch.
    • by mikael (484)

      The activity of the immune system has something to do with this too. You can either have an hyper-activated immune system and it will kill every slightly mutated cell, causing premature aging. Or you can have a suppressed immune system in which case, cancers and tumours are more likely to grow.

    • Did the article imply that the clock was use in that way at all? The body read sthe clock and then decides to recede a hair line, put in a few more grays, or make your bones more brittle?

      I would imagine a clock like this is used more for general maintenance, knowing when a cell needs replacing/cleaning/replenishing.

    • It's a real-time clock, apparently.
    • by timeOday (582209)
      The results are inconclusive because the technique is not fooled by progeria?

      Whoever said progeria has the same underlying mechanism as actual aging?

    • If you the TFA you will see at the bottom an interesting note: "In an unexpected finding, the cells of children with progeria, a genetic disorder that causes premature aging, appeared normal and reflected their true chronological age" Doesn't this make the results inconclusive at that point? Since children with this disease age faster than anyone else? If his "clock" was accurate wouldn't these children display clocks point to a much older person?

      Maybe. If progeria were literally "premature temporal aging". But it isn't. It's just a genetic disorder that causes certain symptoms that appear similar to premature temporal aging. Nobody on Earth has ever actually "aged" faster or slower than anyone else. A 35-year-old person with a full head of prematurely gray hair is still the same actual age as all other 35-year-old people. He or she just has premature graying; a specific symptom of a very specific biological system, which resembles a symptom of general aging. But the gray hair does not mean the person has actually aged 90 years while the rest of us have aged 35 years. It just means that some metabolic process has reacted differently at a different time on the biological clock. Now we have to figure out what triggers all of the other independent metabolic systems to react in certain ways when they read certain timestamps from the biological clock.

      What the result regarding progeria cells tells us is that this biological clock quite literally tells time, i.e. the actual temporal age of the organism. Like tree rings. Which is interesting in and of itself. If this clock is accurate enough we might finally have a way to test whether those people who are supposedly 120 or 130 or 140 years old are really as old as they think they are or whether they're just misremembering what decade they were born.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Gr8Apes (679165)
      Progreria is not actually an aging process, although it has many of the appearances of aging. It's actually a defective protein encoding that weakens cells and shortens cell lifespans. This is not a process that occurs during normal aging. So the finding confirms what you'd expect to find in the cells of progeria affected individuals.
    • by Joviex (976416)
      Not necessarily. Think of it this way: Hang two wall clocks, one inside your house, and one outside. They both keep perfect time, but over time, the one outside, battered by wind, sea air, etc... corrodes quicker, the outside beaten all to hell. So, appearance is aged, internals are aged, but both can still keep the same time (up to a point of course) which is akin to what happens to kids with progeria.
  • Turns out breast tissue in women ages faster than most of the rest of their bodies.

    However, read the actual paper which describes the population chosen for the study first. Don't draw conclusions based on news reporting, which is almost always wrong.

  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Monday October 21, 2013 @03:14PM (#45192329)

    A lot of the problems in our society would be corrected if people lived a great deal longer. That is counter intuitive because many people believe we have over population issues. But in the developed world we don't. The issue is actually that our mortality rate exceeds our birth rate. The difference made up in immigration.

    Worse, we have big problems with education and not just education but experience. We invest a lot in people for relatively few productive years of service. Imagine if you could train someone up and they'd be viable in that job for 50 years. Obviously some booster training over the years as required. But consider the wealth of knowledge people would bring to the table.

    It might stagnate certain segments as industries became saturated with people more accustomed to older tech... but then we might just get standards that update the tech without changing the way you use it.

    Who can say. Regardless, life extension would be useful.

    That said, I don't think this discovery is going to be particularly useful in it. Sure. Great they're doing this research and good for them for finding something. But the clock they found appears to be correlative instead of causative. Its a log. Its tree rings. It doesn't cause the aging it is instead caused by the aging.

    • by bsDaemon (87307)

      Well, it would certainly take care of the "who cares? I'll be dead by then anyway!" mentality.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      But consider the wealth of knowledge people would bring to the table.

      They bring that knowledge to the table right now, and the employer would still rather have two fresh college grads.

    • I'm scared that for you living longer means more time to work.

      I know why it's socially the right thing, what that money thing we've got going on, but it just makes me sad.

      • It could be a split. Living longer AND healthier means more productive years, which could also spin into saving better for a longer retirement. I wouldn't mind working 'til I was 100 if I had an expected lifespan of 150 years. And working for 50-70 productive years instead of just 30-40 means it'd be easier to save enough to straight up live off investments during retirement.
      • by alexgieg (948359)

        I'm scared that for you living longer means more time to work.

        I remember reading a mathematician who took to calculate how things would work were death by disease and age abolished. His conclusions were more or less like this: people would live on average 500 to 1000 years then die from violence or accident (evidently some would die at 10 or earlier like today, some would live to many millennia); a pair would be allowed to have a child per century or so to account for people dying so as to keep the population stable (allow for space exploration, new world and the like

      • Why? Work is one of the things that gives us purpose. And if you have a career it can even define your role in society.

        now many people have jobs they hate that don't represent them at all. But maybe if you had more time you might work your way into a more pleasurable career.

        Maybe you'd even had an early life career to make a nest egg and then use that to augment a later career that might not pay as well or that might need some start up cash to get going.

        Think of the potential for small business. Lets say th

        • "So why not make that a thing."
          I did say that we have that social thing going with money, so i know the following can't work without major structural changes:

          But if you could live longer, wouldn't it be better to spend the extra time learning that always-postponed piano/tourism/archery/bobsleigh/reading the whole library of congress, and having fun with real people, not customers?
          Yes, doing a job you actually like can be on that list, but what's the likelihood that the next wall street drop and healthcare o

    • A lot of the problems in our society would be corrected if people lived a great deal longer.

      A lot of problem in society are corrected when people die. A friend of mine loves to repeat a saying he picked up somewhere: "If you could live to 1000, imagine all the weird kinds of racist you would be".

      You really want assholes like Strom Thurmond living to the ripe old age of 1000?
      • by khallow (566160)

        You really want assholes like Strom Thurmond living to the ripe old age of 1000?

        Sure. He wasn't a bad guy. I rather him not be a senator for that long though.

        And for all your yacking, a lot of problems would be dealt with because they would be in peoples' lifetimes rather than a few generations down the road and without a lot of fake urgency.

      • So long as there were term limits, I don't have a problem with it.

        You think there aren't young racists? You do know we have lots of racists under the age of 20... of all races, genders, religious backgrounds, and sexual orientations. Any flavor of person out there is going to come in the racist variety. Welcome to planet earth.

        I'd much rather have seasoned racists that have at least been around the block a few times then naive ones that on top of being bigots are also clueless of just about everything.

        Here

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        Nah, instead they pass it to their children. Things like tea are an artifact of this. Drinking plant water isn't "natural" (like all the commercials claim), but a by-product of times when water was deadly. You had to boil it first, and boiling it in dirty cookware made it bitter and taste funny. So we ritualized adding in some plant matter to flavor it. Now that we have good sanitation, we still drink flavored drinks.

        Just about anything with an "acquired taste" is something passed down by parents. So
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I think you underestimate how bad the overpopulation really is. The advantages you mention pale in comparison to the problems we will encounter because of overpopulation, even without any kind of life extension.

      Just look at the worlds resources and how they are all being spent at a frightening pace. And I am not just talking about oil. I mean all of them. Raw materials, food sources, clean water, a nice, clean place to live. The possibility to get away from other people sometimes. Waning Bio diversity, spec

      • by khallow (566160)

        Just look at the worlds resources and how they are all being spent at a frightening pace. And I am not just talking about oil. I mean all of them. Raw materials, food sources, clean water, a nice, clean place to live. The possibility to get away from other people sometimes. Waning Bio diversity, species are extinct every day.

        Yet Julian Simons won the bet [wikipedia.org].

        And then consider that you and I are probably part of the 20% of the population that uses 80% of the resources and that the other 80% wants the same living standards as we do.

        Since the living standard is not based on a fixed amount of pollution, it'll just be provided at a small portion of the pollution at somewhat greater relative cost. It's also worth noting that most of that pollution actually comes from the countries that have 80% of the population. As they deal with those pollution problems, the problem will go away naturally.

    • Considering most people aren't paying into the pretense of a system what they cost, and that a great many worthless jobs are created with tax money just to pretend they're doing something to earn the pay(out), I think you're failing to grasp what overpopulation is. Squeezing us all into the creeping totalitarian regime that'd be the metaphorical sardine can here necessary to remotely approach a "maximum population" isn't OK.
      • And of course... population control administered by a benign birth bureaucracy will be better.

        I'd rather have over population then that crap.

    • by omtinez (3343547)

      That said, I don't think this discovery is going to be particularly useful in it. Sure. Great they're doing this research and good for them for finding something. But the clock they found appears to be correlative instead of causative. Its a log. Its tree rings. It doesn't cause the aging it is instead caused by the aging.

      "You can't improve what you don't measure" - Someone who was NOT W. Edwards Deming

    • by Rich0 (548339)

      We invest a lot in people for relatively few productive years of service. Imagine if you could train someone up and they'd be viable in that job for 50 years.

      Agree, but I also see a downside to that - even more specialization. Today new kids out of college have trouble competing against people with 25 years of experience. Imagine when the job listings all call for at least 150 years experience in a specific domain!

      The need for extensive training also makes it much harder to move the workforce around - it becomes a much bigger problem when people lose their jobs/etc.

      However, I do agree that longevity is something most people would prefer all the same!

      The other

  • Versus "inventing"

    Which is it?! No, I'm not 'TL;DR', but there's a wall clock
    that insists there are only 24 hours in a day.

  • 'My goal in inventing this clock is to help scientists improve their understanding of what speeds up and slows down the human aging process.

    That's a misprint. The actual quote is "My goal in inventing this clock is to become really stinking rich. I don't mean a little rich, I mean Bill Gates rich. Famous too. 'The guy who solved aging' has a good ring to it. Mostly, however, I just want sacks and sacks of cash.

    • by Lithdren (605362)

      So he wants to live forever and have lots of wealth? Well, at least we know the scientist involved is human.

  • ".. UCLA has filed a provisional patent on Horvath's clock .."

    I thought he discovered something that was already there..

    But I guess since it's *his* clock (or UCLAs), we shouldn't hold our breath on an anti-aging drug.

  • Are they trying to say through this analysis that your potential maximum life span would be N years and that you are some percentage of the way there?
    • by jittles (1613415)

      Are they trying to say through this analysis that your potential maximum life span would be N years and that you are some percentage of the way there?

      No. They've figured out the way that Apple generates the serial numbers for their iPhones. Now they are able to age their cell phones and determine when they are eligible for an upgrade with their carrier.

  • Every time I look in the mirror, I can see More gray hair and estimate that I'm getting older.
    • by rubycodez (864176)

      you are lucky, my white and gray hairs are leaving the mothership and descending to earth. well, it may be some pulled into my head and are growing out my nose and ears.

  • Ha! Now I can *prove* that I'm the one that's supposed to be here! They can now confidently set me free and lock up that other guy.

    In your (my) face, Future-Me!

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