Age Gene Score Test May Predict Alzheimer’s Dx Earlier

Researchers have developed a “gene signature” that may help predict the onset of diseases, like Alzheimer’s disease, years in advance. Findings from the study are published in Genome Biology.

Researchers from King’s College, London, United Kingdom, sought to define a set of genes related to healthy aging in 65 year olds that could help identify those at earlier risk of age-related diseases. The study team analyzed the RNA of healthy patients aged 65 years and developed a signature of 150 RNA genes that indicated “healthy aging.” The molecular profile helped predict risk of age-related disease when evaluating RNA from tissues including human muscle, brain,and skin. Researchers then developed a “healthy age gene score” that they used to test and compare the RNA profiles of different patients. They found that a higher score was associated with better health in men and women.

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RNA from healthy 70 year olds were then analyzed and followed up for over two decades. Their RNA around 70 years old showed a wide 4-fold range of healthy age gene score though all study subjects were born within a year of each other.

Patients with Alzheimer’s disease demonstrated an altered “healthy aging” RNA signature in their blood, resulting in a lower healthy age gene score. Presence of dementia could be a type of “accelerated aging” or a “failure to activate the healthy aging program,” concluded lead author James Timmons. Study findings support that this novel blood test can be utilized to help distinguish middle-aged subjects that may qualify for a preventative clinical trial years before the clinical onset of Alzheimer’s.

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