The amounts of protein produced by a particular set of genes could give researchers clues to how much a person or another animal has aged, scientists report. They say that the finding could be invaluable for developing new treatments to slow the toll that time takes on the body.
Researchers have long searched for molecular markers that track the rate of physical deterioration that accumulates with age. That pace varies widely among species and, to a lesser extent, among individuals within the same species.
"We all know people who look older or younger than their age," says developmental biologist Jacob Zahn of Stanford University.
However, efforts to find biological indicators of aging have typically focused on individual tissues or single species. Such work has led to a mishmash of markers that have little in common, notes Zahn.