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Approved research

Telomere length measurement in UK Biobank: advancing understanding of biological ageing and age-related diseases

Principal Investigator: Professor Nilesh Samani
Approved Research ID: 6077
Approval date: April 1st 2015

Lay summary

Why do some individuals develop age-associated diseases such as coronary disease and dementia early while others go through their entire life without being affected? The answer to this question is profoundly important for both understanding these diseases as well as healthy ageing. Because of their age-association, we have proposed that these diseases are, at least partly, manifestations of accelerated biological ageing. The principle aim of this project is to investigate this hypothesis by measuring leucocyte telomere length, a putative DNA marker of biological age, in UK Biobank and examine whether it predicts the development of age-related diseases. UK Biobank was established to improve understanding of the causes of common diseases. This project will examine whether variation in the rate of biological ageing contributes to differences in inter-individual risk of common age-associated diseases. As such it directly meets UK Biobank?s stated purpose. We will measure mean telomere length (TL) in DNA of all Biobank participants. We will evaluate the association of TL with a range of health-related outcomes including cardiovascular diseases, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases as well as relevant intermediary phenotypes, including derived imaging, ECG and physical activity phenotypes as well as quantitative traits and biomarkers. We will examine whether there are life-style or environmental factors that affect TL and using the UK Biobank GWAS data also identify genetic variants associated with TL. Using this information, we will establish whether the association of TL with diseases is causal. Full cohort or maximum number where there is sufficient available DNA