Scientists at Stanford University have developed a blood test that can assess the rate at which a person's internal organs are aging and predict potential failures. The researchers monitored 11 major body parts, including the heart, brain, and lungs, in thousands of middle-aged and older adults. The results indicated that one in five reasonably healthy adults aged 50 and older may have at least one organ aging faster than their chronological age, while one to two in every 100 individuals may have multiple organs aging faster. Identifying organs in rapid decline could provide insight into potential health issues on the horizon.
The study found that having one or more rapidly aging organs was associated with a higher risk of certain diseases and death over the next 15 years. The specific organs tested include the brain, heart, liver, lung, intestine, kidney, fat, blood vessels, immune tissue, muscle, and pancreas. By analyzing levels of thousands of proteins in the blood, the researchers were able to identify patterns specific to each organ. Using machine-learning algorithms, they made predictions based on blood test results and patient data.
Dr. Tony Wyss-Coray, one of the investigators, explained that 18.4% of individuals aged 50 or older had at least one organ aging significantly faster than average and were at a heightened risk of disease in that organ over the next 15 years. The university has filed for a patent for the test but acknowledges the need for further studies to validate its accuracy in predicting organ age and health.
Experts in age-related health and diseases have praised the study but emphasize the importance of validating the findings in larger and more diverse populations. They also highlight the need to consider the emotional and clinical support required if such a test were to become a reality. Age UK, a charity organization, suggests that people would need support and the NHS would require sufficient funding to provide the necessary care and counseling alongside test results.
In conclusion, the Stanford University blood test shows promising potential in assessing the aging of internal organs and predicting associated health risks. However, further research is needed to confirm its effectiveness and address the emotional and clinical support necessary for individuals undergoing such testing.