March 1, 2024

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A blood test may predict internal organ age and potential health risks

Scientists at Stanford University have developed a blood test that can estimate the age of various internal organs, potentially identifying which ones are ageing faster than others. By monitoring 11 major body parts, including the heart, brain, and lungs, researchers believe the test could help predict organ failure and impending health issues. The study involved thousands of mostly middle-aged or older adults, with results suggesting that one in five reasonably healthy adults aged 50 or older might have at least one fast-ageing organ, while one to two in every 100 might have multiple organs ageing faster than their chronological age.

The blood test analyses thousands of proteins to provide insights into the ageing rates of different organs. Specific protein patterns appear to correlate with particular organs. The researchers used machine-learning algorithms to make predictions based on blood test results and patient data. The test’s potential applications include identifying the risk of heart failure with an “old-for-its-time” heart or the increased likelihood of dementia with a rapidly ageing brain. The researchers propose that early detection of organ ageing could provide an opportunity for intervention and lifestyle changes.

However, more studies are needed to validate the test’s effectiveness in predicting organ age and overall health. Some experts suggest that, while the findings are promising, further validation in a larger and more diverse population is necessary. If successful, the blood test could offer a proactive approach to healthcare by identifying organs undergoing accelerated ageing, allowing for early intervention before the onset of diseases.

The researchers have submitted paperwork to patent the test, indicating potential future use and commercialization. Despite the promising prospects, experts emphasise the importance of considering overall health and the need for emotional and clinical support for individuals who may learn about potential health risks through such testing.