Link identified between faster ‘biological’ ageing and risk of developing age-related diseases

Posted by er134 at Mar 27, 2013 05:35 PM |
University of Leicester leads team studying telomere length in chromosomes whose findings open up potential future health benefits

An international team of scientists led by the University of Leicester has found new evidence that links faster ‘biological’ ageing to the risk of developing several age-related diseases - including heart disease, multiple sclerosis and various cancers.

Professor Nilesh Samani (pictured), British Heart Foundation Professor of Cardiology in our Department of Cardiovascular Sciences and Director of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit led the project, working as part of the ENGAGE Consortium. It was published online today (27 March) in the journal Nature Genetics.

The project studied a feature of chromosomes called telomeres which shorten as an individual gets older. But, individuals are born with different telomere lengths and the rate at which they subsequently shorten can also vary. The speed with which telomeres wear down is a measure of ‘biological ageing’.

These findings open the possibility that manipulating telomere length could have health benefits and have the potential to slow and even reverse age-related changes in several organs.

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