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Approved Research

Genetically enhanced and organ-specific blood aging clocks (GenOrgBlood clock)

Principal Investigator: Mr Nikhil Yadala
Approved Research ID: 98755
Approval date: May 26th 2023

Lay summary

Biological aging is the process of becoming weaker and more vulnerable to diseases as a person gets older. Birthday-based age (also called Chronological age ) doesn't capture the information about one's health correctly. Biological age, on the other hand, is a proxy of the current health and risk status of individual health. A healthy individual is ought to be "biologically" younger than an unhealthy individual with the same chronological age. Biological age can be measured using Machine learning models called "aging clocks," which are trained on health records such as genetic testing (i.e studying the DNA patterns inherited from the parents), epigenetic testing (i.e., studying how external factors, including lifestyle and behaviors, change the way genes function in the body),  regular blood work your GP/doctor would prescribe for algorithmically identifying patterns in these data points that indicate the risk of diseases. Aging is a significant risk factor for many diseases, and aging clocks can be used to predict risks and evaluate the effectiveness of preventive measures such as medicine, exercise, diet, and other healthcare interventions.

Healome's blood aging clock is an excellent example of an accurate and affordable aging clock. However, there are still challenges to be addressed to make it more useful within the existing healthcare system. For example, it needs to be interpretable at the organ and disease levels - because depending on the disease diagnosis, certain organs are prone to age faster than other organs in the body - and we need to accurately capture this difference across various organs. Moreover, we also have to consider the diversity of populations and their inherited risks and vulnerabilities.

To address these challenges, Healome is developing a new aging clock called GenOrgBlood that uses data from the UK Biobank to consider the effects of diseases on aging and provide actionable recommendations for reducing the pace of biological aging. At the end of the project (36 months), Healome will publish the results, provide clinical guidelines, and create educational materials for clinicians and the general public - on how to use aging clocks to not only measure the impact of longevity interventions but also enable researchers to discover personalized longevity protocols - thus enabling preventative approach to decrease the risk of age-related disease