Universal Epigenetic Aging Clock for Vertebrates
Because aging is a leading risk factor for multiple chronic diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, finding a way to slow the biological aging process could offer a powerful medical tool. Horvath has recently developed a way to measure the age of any human tissue by looking at a combination of chemical changes to the DNA. This “epigenetic clock” is highly correlated with chronological age across the entire lifespan and even predicts life expectancy. Horvath will seek to enhance the clock so that it becomes a universal measure of aging across different species. The resulting epigenetic clock could shed light on a broad range of scientific questions, including why animals have different lifespans, how the environment influences lifespan, and potential trajectories to cancer and immune disorders as well as uncovering possible therapies for slowing the aging process.
Steve Horvath, Ph.D.
University of California, Los Angeles
Dr. Steve Horvath is a Professor in the Departments of Human Genetics and Biostatistics at the University of California, Los Angeles. His research lies at the intersection of computational biology, genetics, epidemiology, and systems biology. He works on all aspects of biomarker development with a particular focus on genomic biomarkers of aging. He recently published an article that describes a highly accurate biomarker of aging known as epigenetic clock. Salient features of the epigenetic clock include its high accuracy and its applicability to a broad spectrum of tissues and cell types. Dr. Horvath's most recent work demonstrates that the epigenetic clock captures aspects of biological age.