Researchers create method to more accurately determine cell age

Biophysical qualities of cells, such as cell movements and structural features, are better at measuring the functional age of a cell than other factors.
By Amy Wallace  |  July 11, 2017 at 2:10 PM
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July 11 (UPI) -- A new method developed by a Johns Hopkins University-led research team can more accurately determine cell age than traditional methods.

The method uses a wide array of cellular and molecular factors in one comprehensive aging study and uses biophysical qualities of cells to make more accurate measures of functional age than other factors like cell secretions and energy.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins, Yale University and the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health devised a system through computational analysis to measure the factors of cellular and molecular functions to determine the biological age of people in a more accurate manner.

"We combined some classic biomolecular hallmarks of aging, and sought to further elucidate the role of biophysical properties of aging cells, all in one study," Jude M. Phillip, now a post-doctoral fellow at Weill Cornell Medicine and lead author of the study, said in a news release.

Previous research focused on factors like tissue and organ function and on molecular-level studies of genetics and epigenetics but has mostly ignored the level in between -- the cells.

The team examined dermal cells from underneath the surface of the skin from both male and female participants between the ages of 2 and 96.

The study, which was published July 11 in Nature Biomedical Engineering, allowed researchers to stratify an individual's sample into three groups, showing that the biophysical factors of cells are a more accurate measure of cellular aging than biomolecular factors.

"This platform is also more than just a cellular age predictor, it has the ability to do so much more in terms of assessing an individual's cellular health," Phillip said.

The method could allow clinicians to see aging in cells before a patient experiences age-related declines in their health and can allow doctors to prescribe treatments or changes in lifestyle to address the aging.

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