Special Blood Proteins Can Assist In Recognizing Aging Related Diseases
Special blood proteins can recognize diseases specific to the aging process, a new study in Science reports. This recognition should help researchers develop drugs to combat chronic illnesses at earlier stages, illnesses that affect seniors the most.
All of us pray and hope that we will age gracefully and in the best of health. But, unfortunately, a part of the aging process is a weakened immune system that increases the susceptibility to serious chronic diseases. For example, seniors are more prone to dementia, alzheimer’s, diabetes, hardening of the arteries, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease. The effects of these diseases are devastating; indeed, early intervention would significantly improve quality of life.
Blood Proteins: What They Tell Us About The Aging Process
A long-term and meticulous study on the effects of blood proteins on the aging process was recently concluded by the National Institute of Aging (NIA). It illuminates how disease impacts the body as we age.
The study of older people in Iceland found that specific patterns of circulating proteins in their bloodstreams could detect signs of health or disease. It is the first overview to show how blood proteins connect as networks, and how they affect different body tissues.
Blood samples were taken from 5,400 volunteers, aged 66 to 96. Thousands of serum proteins were measured and identified using specially crafted small nucleic acid chains that bind to specific proteins.
Researchers then scanned the blood samples and found 27 unique protein networks. Many of these blood proteins were found to be involved with either past or present disease occurrences. Chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
The project was funded by the NIA, Icelandic Heart Association, Novartis, and Somalogic, a Colorado proteomics company. Proteomics is the large-scale study of proteins, particularly their structures and functions.
Based on these results, the researchers view blood proteins as a potential new type of easy-to-sample, low-cost bio-marker. Unique protein networks provide insights on how they affect the onset of age related illnesses and how to combat them.
New, effective drugs, as well as other therapy modalities can thereby be introduced sooner. Chronic illness in the aged could perhaps be either reversed to some degree or lessened in severity.
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