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'Ageing' gene mutation found

Wednesday August 14th, 2019

A newly-discovered gene mutation appears to be linked to accelerated ageing on the molecular level, British researchers have announced.

A team from the European Bioinformatics Institute's European Bioinformatics Institute, Cambridgeshire, UK, are working on an accurate ‘epigenetic clock’ that can improve understanding of the ageing process.

Dr Daniel Elías Martín-Herranz and colleagues analysed several DNA datasets of people with developmental disorders, looking for links between genes and accelerated of biological age.

They highlighted a mutation in gene NSD1 associated with faster molecular ageing.

This information can be added to the mathematical model behind their epigenetic clock, which also measures DNA methylation levels - essential for the healthy growth and development of cells - in different sites across the genome, they say.

The team hopes this will help them gain insights into how ageing is linked to cancer, obesity, Alzheimer's disease and other conditions.

Dr Martín-Herranz said: "The epigenetic clock is the most accurate tool available to measure the ageing process in humans. We wanted to see if we could identify specific genes or proteins from the epigenetic machinery that accelerate or slow down the ageing process.

“The fact that we found one gene that, when mutated, results in a significant acceleration of biological age is very encouraging. It shows that the epigenetic clock is a promising tool for understanding ageing and that we may unravel the molecular mechanisms that control its ticking rate.”

Collaborator Professor Wolf Reik added: "The gene identified here is implicated in ageing in other organisms, and in the regulation of the epigenome during the ageing process."

Genome Biology 13 August 2019

http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13059-019-1753-9

Tags: Elderly Health | Europe | General Health | Genetics | UK News

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