What is Genomic Age? Why is it Important?
You know the PBBG is into scientific anti-aging and age reversal from our Annual Age Reversal Breakfasts at the Breakers in 2016 and in 2017. We encourage health consciousness for our Members.
It is now apparent that your chronological age may differ considerably from your body's age (by working, or eating right, or by excessive stress, smoking, drug use, or disease). However, we are speaking here about your genetic age, which a completely different parameter of your health! Your chromosomes age, just like your body ages, and the shortening of telomeres (that are the end of these aging chromosomes) function as a "genomic clock". When your chromosomes are too old, your cells are "forced into retirement" in a process called cellular senescence. Biological function decreases considerably. This may explain in part how older people get sick easier, get more forgetful or are less mentally sharp, break bones more easily, lose their vision or hearing, or are simply are not as strong as they used to be. Several degenerative diseases (such as dementia) are now linked to "aged" chromosomes, especially when the biological processes functioned smoother previously! Many people still remember "Dolly" the sheep, scientist's first attempt to perform whole animal cloning by genomic transplant. Dolly died at an early age not because the experimental process failed, but because an older adult genome was transferred instead of a newer, age-matched fetal genome. Dolly's genomic age was MUCH greater than her chronological or physical age, and she died early as a consequence! Genomic age is real, and now it can be tested!
How do chromosomes age? First we must describe a specific feature of our chromosomes. For those who are familar with cassette tapes or VCR tapes, do you remember repairing these tapes when the ends broke from the reels (vs. when they broke in the middle by being eaten by the tape player), and that the video or audio was not destroyed as long as there was enough leader tape left? The "leader tape" was that clear region that was guaranteed free of audio or video information, and allowed you to repair the tape with tape splicers without destroying the music or video. Our genomes are similar to these tapes in that they are long and linear, and protected on their ends. At the ends of our chromosome we have structures called telomeres. Due to the nature of DNA replication, the very beginning of the chromosomes are lost with each cellular division (see here for a picture; by weak analogy, the ends of hair get frayed, and must be cut off every so often; good thing hair grows throughout life!). After many divisions (from a single cell to the trillion cells we are composed of, there must have been at least 40 divisions on average; some cells have gone through over 60-70 divisions before we reach adulthood!), a significant amount of DNA from the ends of chromosomes can be lost. To ensure that the lost DNA does not include genes crucial for life, telomeres are placed on the ends of these chromosomes to provide a buffer from this genomic loss. Telomeres are highly repetitive sequences of DNA thousands of base-pairs long at the ends of chromosomes. Telomeres are analagous to the leader tape in that if the they are exhausted, crusical information is in danger of being lost. Cells have evolved a defense mechanism against this excessive shortening in that cellular division halts forever if the telomeres get too short. As alllulded to above, the cells are essentially put into "retirement" to prevent any possibility of cellular growth that could leaed to cellular division. Our body relies on cellular turnover and plasticity to survive; without this cellular plasticity, out tissues begin to lose function gradually. Thus our hair turns grey, our skin thins out, our brains slow down, our muscles lose mass and become sinewy, our eyesight, hearing, and sense of taste and balance worsens. Or degenerative diseasescan start occuring.
How can we learn if our chromosomes are too old for our own good? We test out blood for telomere length! Well, *we* do not test it, but a company exists that can test this for us. The PBBG is now an affiliate of TeloYears. What is TeloYears? TeloYears is a company founded by one of the scientists who established the concept of telomeres and established the mechanism of telomere lengthening to keep the biological generations continuing, and won one of the 2009 Nobel Prizes for her efforts and acceptance by the scientific community. The TeloYears kit is a simple finger-prick blood test. At their lab in Menlo Park, California, they extract the genomic DNA from your minute blood sample, and test your blood genome for the lengths of your telomeres. Do you exemplify that 50 is the new 30, 60 is the new 40, etc.? Or could you have "older blood" that could be an indication of weakened or exhausted immune system, or a risk factor for certain degenerative diseases? Test your chromosomal age by having your telomeres measured to more accurately gauge your real current health. The test costs only $89. To test your genomic age, click the "learn more" botton on the image to the left and order a kit. Part of your purchase prices goes back to the PBBG.