A blood test has been developed to assess the rate of aging in internal organs, akin to an MOT for a car. Scientists at Stanford University have identified 11 key body parts, such as the heart, brain, and lungs that can be monitored through this test.
In trials on thousands of middle-aged and older adults, results indicated that one in five generally healthy individuals over 50 might possess at least one organ aging rapidly, with one to two in every 100 displaying accelerated aging in multiple organs.
Despite the potential anxiety associated with such diagnostics, researchers emphasize the opportunity for timely intervention and course correction.
Identifying organs undergoing swift decline could offer insights into impending health issues, as illustrated in the study published in the journal Nature.
The blood test analyzes thousands of proteins to discern the varying rates of organ aging. Specific patterns of proteins were found to correlate with particular organs, and a machine-learning algorithm was trained to predict organ age using extensive blood test data and patient information.
The study revealed that individuals with one or more rapidly aging organs faced an elevated risk of specific diseases and mortality within the next 15 years.
The organs assessed include the brain, heart, liver, lungs, intestines, kidneys, fat tissue, blood vessels, immune tissue, muscles, and pancreas.
The researchers have submitted the necessary paperwork for patenting the test, but further studies are required to validate its efficacy in predicting organ age and health.
Dr. Tony Wyss-Coray, one of the investigators, explained that approximately 18.4% of individuals aged 50 or older exhibited significant acceleration in the aging process of at least one organ, increasing their susceptibility to diseases affecting that specific organ in the subsequent 15 years.
While acknowledging the impressive nature of the findings, experts emphasize the need for validation in larger and more diverse populations.
The potential benefits of early detection notwithstanding, some caution that a comprehensive assessment of overall health, rather than individual organs, remains crucial for an accurate health profile.
If validated in larger cohorts, this blood test could offer a proactive approach to identifying accelerated aging in organs, potentially enabling preventive measures before the onset of illness.
Last Updated: 08 December 2023