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How healthy are you for your age?
Date:5/22/2013

On May 22, JoVE will publish details of a technique to measure the health of human genetic material in relation to a patients age. The method is demonstrated by the laboratory of Dr. Gil Atzmon at New Yorks Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Dr. Atzmon hopes that the dissemination of this technique will lead to the development of a genetic thermometer to assess a patients health in relation to other individuals of the same age.

The JoVE publication will feature a technique that measures telomere length. Recently, telomeres have gained attention because they serve as caps to chromosomes. As such, they mark the ends of genetic material and ensure that genes do not degrade as cells divide. Starting with the first replication of DNA and division of a fertilized egg, chromosomes shorten because the DNA replication process is imperfect. Certain organs, like the stomach or skin, are composed of tissues that reconstitute themselves frequently. In these organs, and in young individuals, the telomerase enzyme extends telomeres with each division, negating chromosomal shortening that would otherwise occur. Telomerase activity declines as people age, and as a result telomeres shorten and can be responsible for age related afflictions and some cancers. Overall health can impact how quickly these telomeres degrade.

Think of telomere length as though it was a thermometer. It measures the health of your genetic material, Dr. Atzmon explains. It tells you how fit you are in relation to the age you are. If you have longer telomeres you are in good shape, if you have shorter telomeres you are less fit for your age and are not in good health.

Dr. Atzmon hopes that publication of this article will impact the ageing community by classifying health relative to an individuals age. I published in JoVE because I want more people to use the technique. As we [the medical community
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Contact: Rachel Greene
press@jove.com
617-250-8451
The Journal of Visualized Experiments
Source:Eurekalert

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