The epigenetic clock
The Epigenetic clock is a useful tool and one of the most effective methods of measuring biological age, which is believed to reflect our “true” biological age and in contrast to chronological age (day we were born), can be affected by poor lifestyle, chronic diseases etc. The epigenetic clock is determined by measuring level of methylation at specific positions in DNA. Methylation is a natural chemical mark on DNA that programs DNA function. DNA methylation could be influenced by experience, lifestyle and environmental exposures.
The epigenetic clock emerged from the lab into the commercial space. Epigenetic clock tests are already available commercially.
However, development of biological markers of aging were primarily based on adult samples. This created a gap in our understanding of how biological aging is related to child development and pediatric diseases.
To address this gap, a group of scientists from US and Canada used publicly available DNA methylation data derived from DNA extracted from buccal cells of 1721 children, adolescents and young adults aged 0 to 20 years and discovered a set of the genes that are associated with biological age in this age population.
This discovery might help in understanding the environmental factors that can affect child health and development through epigenetics and how they are related with child disease and might be used in the future as an important tool for assessing child health and assessing the impact of different experiences and environments on children wellbeing.