As reported by The Guardian, a small biological research company in Spain has developed a test which, some claim, can predict our expiry date.
Telomeres are structures at the ends of chromosomes comprised of hundreds to thousands of tandem repeats of the DNA sequence. The reason telomeres are so important is that they are critical in maintaining the structural integrity, positioning, and accuracy of replication of the chromosomes that carry the genes which serve as the blueprint for all our life functions. Telomere loss occurs as a natural result of normal DNA replication. The test is based on the idea that biological age can be calculated measuring our telomeres.
María Blasco, the 45-year head of Spain’s cancer research centre and one of the world’s leading telomere researchers, explains that “short telomeres do not just provide evidence of ageing. They also cause it.”
Blasco compares the current state of telomere testing to the beginnings of cholesterol testing. “This is a different kind of marker. It is a new, molecular marker. Even though we measure telomere length in blood cells, it has been shown to be an indicator of the degree of telomere shortening in the whole organism,” she says. Even so, she is insistent that the test is not a magic measure of individual life length.
María Blasco says that telomeres can potentially be “re-elongated” and, hence, that biological age can be reversed but that this does not open the door to immortality. Scientists have been able to extend a mouse’s age by up to 40% but there aren’t any immortal mice out there.
Isn’t science fascinating? We think so.