Researchers at The New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine has demonstrated a new technique that would help them to measure the health of human genetic material in relation to a patient’s age.
Dr. Gil Atzmon said that he hopes the dissemination of the technique which measures telomere length will in fact lead to the development of a genetic thermometer in order to asses patient’s health in relation to other individuals of the same age.
The telomeres have recently gained attention because they serve as caps to chromosomes, and they mark the ends of genetic material and ensure that the genes do not degrade as cells divide. Telomerase activity declines as people age and as a result telomeres shorten and can be responsible for age related afflictions and some cancers. Overall health can impact how quickly these telomeres degrade.
Dr. Atzmon explained, “Think of telomere length as though it was a thermometer. It measures the health of your genetic material, it tells you how fit you are in relation to the age you are. If you have longer telomeres you are in good shape, if you have shorter telomeres you are less fit for your age and are not in good health.”
Adoption of this technique will allow clinicians to monitor a patient's health as they are treated, by comparing telomere degradation of a sick patient to other patients with that disease and to determine if treatment is slowing degradation.
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