A 'gene signature' that could be used to predict the onset of diseases, such as Alzheimer's, years in advance has been developed in research published in the open access journal Genome Biology.
The study aimed to define a set of genes associated with 'healthy ageing' in 65 year olds. Such a molecular profile could be useful for distinguishing people at earlier risk of age-related diseases. This could improve upon the use of chronological age and complement traditional indicators of disease, such as blood pressure.
Lead author James Timmons, from King's College London, UK, said: "We use birth year, or chronological age, to judge everything from insurance premiums to whether you get a medical procedure or not. Most people accept that all 60 year olds are not the same, but there has been no reliable test for underlying 'biological age'.