Epigenetic clock: a potential health marker
Time marches on, mercilessly. While we have yet to find ways to reverse the flow of time, healthy habits e.g. regular exercise, balanced diets go a long way in slowing down the effects of aging on our bodies.
With the revolution of sequencing technologies and a deeper understanding of the epigenome, our “internal ages” can be estimated by checking the methylation status of ~100-400 markers across our genome.
One major drawback of these epigenetic clocks is that it is species-specific. A clock calibrated on human markers might also apply to other mammals; it would not be accurate at all when applied to other vertebrates, or invertebrates. The calibration of a new species-specific clock needs good genomic resources. For well-studied model organisms, this isn’t a problem. However, for many under-studied species with commercial/conservation interest, such resources do not exist. This greatly hampers the clock calibration on these species.
We wish to come up with a clock that is
- pan-animal, and
- can be used as a health marker. This would act as additional evidence that the medical/lifestyle interventions did slow (or even reverse!) the internal epigenetic clock.