These researchers are uncovering ways to measure biological age, from grip strength to the lengths of protective caps on the ends of chromosomes, known as telomeres. Their goal: to construct a comprehensive set of metrics that predicts an individual’s life span and health span—the number of healthy years they have left—and illuminates the drivers of, and treatments for, age-related diseases.
A team led by David Sinclair, professor of genetics in the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School, has just taken another step toward this goal by developing two artificial intelligence-based clocks that use established measures of frailty to gauge both chronological and biological age in mice.
"We are working to predict mouse health spans so we can quickly assess the effectiveness of interventions intended to extend life and move toward doing the same one day in humans," said Sinclair, senior author of the study, published Sept. 15 in Nature Communications.
The work marks the first time a study has tracked frailty for the duration of a mouse's life, the authors said.
"It can take up to three years to complete a longevity study in mice to see if a particular drug or diet slows the aging process," said co-first author Alice Kane, HMS research fellow in genetics in the Sinclair lab. "Predictive biometrics can accelerate such research by indicating whether an intervention is likely to work."
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FRIGHT and AFRAID? Dr Sinclair really is having a laugh isn't he?The Frailty Inferred Geriatric Health Timeline, or FRIGHT, clock gauges how biologically old a mouse is based on its frailty status.
The Analysis of Frailty and Death, or AFRAID, clock predicts how much longer an old mouse has to live, up to one year ahead of time. Predictions in the study were accurate to within two months.