Predict When I Will Die

Predict When I Will Die – There is an unanswered question for all of us: When will I die? Would we live differently if we knew? So far, science is no more accurate at predicting life expectancy than a $10 fortune teller. But that is starting to change.

The metrics used are never good at predicting the exact date or time of death, but insurance companies find them useful, as do hospitals and hospices. “I want to know when I’m going to die,” says Brian Chen, head of research at Life Epigenetics, an insurance services company. “It will affect my outlook on life.”

Predict When I Will Die

The work still needs to be more practical and companies need to make better use of the data. Ethics is about how people will react to knowing the ultimate secret of life. But whether you like it or not, the prophecy of death is coming.

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Growing up in Frankfurt, Germany, UCLA biostatistician Steve Horvath describes himself as “very outspoken” and has an identical twin brother who is gay. So his personal interest was sparked a few years ago when a colleague asked him to help analyze biological data on a set of heterosexual twins. A colleague tried to find chemical changes that indicate whether certain genes are turned on or off.

It is hypothesized that epigenetic changes, which change DNA function but not DNA sequence, may help explain why two individuals with the same gene are different. But Horvath found “null signals” in the twins’ rheumatic cytology. Instead, his attention was captured by the strong links between genetic changes and aging. “I was blown away by the strength of the signal,” he says. “I left other projects in the lab and said, ‘This is the future.’

Specifically, Horvath said, chemical changes to cytosine — one of the four DNA bases, or “letters” in the genetic code — make genes more active. Based on someone’s age, looking for these changes in that person’s DNA can tell if their body is aging abnormally quickly or slowly. His team tested this epigenetic clock in 13,000 blood samples collected decades ago from people whose autopsy dates were known. The results showed that the watch could be used to predict death.

Since many common diseases—cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s—are diseases of old age, the Horroth Clock predicts choices about who will live and for how long (though it doesn’t predict which people). will receive). “After five years of research, no one can predict how long epigenetics will last,” he says.

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Horvath, 50, says his work is a personal hobby. “Like everyone else, I hope to find ways to slow down aging.”

Horvath says dying eight or more years younger than your calendar age is twice the normal risk. His lab has developed a new version of this more accurate lifelike, which they call the Grim Reaper: DNAm GrimAge. The epigenetic clock is short. This is especially true for adults.

“At this point we have no evidence that it is clinically useful because there are significant errors,” says Horvath. In addition, there is no medication that reverses the effects. But while it may never be definitive, Horvath and his watch must answer a question that affects us all and find out what we can do to change the answer.

As we age, hundreds of thousands of spots in our DNA lose their cytosine methyl group, or CH3. Horvath’s genius was measuring these increases and decreases in methylation, finding the most important 300-500 changes, and using them to build his clock. His findings show that clock speed is strongly influenced by nuclear genes. He estimates that about 40% of the percentage of choice is determined by genetic inheritance, and the rest by lifestyle and fate.

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Morgan Levine, who completed her PhD in Horvath’s lab and now runs her own lab at Yale, has begun comparing a person’s genetic profile to that of healthy intestinal epithelial cells. The more people deviate from this standard, the worse it gets. It will eventually be able to compare different measures of aging, even in childhood, and be able to predict which diseases are most at risk, before it is too early to change the future. “Your genes are not your destiny, but things like epigenetics are,” he says. “If we can understand what they are, what we can do to delay aging.”

Some potential candidates are completely unexpected. Eating a healthy diet, rich in vegetables and fish, is associated with slower aging. Do you feel older when you have insomnia? It may not be a coincidence. Horvath showed that people with insomnia show accelerated aging in infection. “Everything we associate with a healthy lifestyle correlates with the new biomarkers as expected, which is disappointing, but it’s scientifically very exciting,” he says.

Suddenly he realized that regular exercise is not included in your life for more than a few months. But these measurements are only on DNA in blood, and Horvath says he also wants to look at changes in muscles to see if exercise makes a big difference there.

Horvath’s watch is not impressive. He analyzed his urine and was amazed to find epigenetic marks five years older than his chronology. A few years later, he had a blood test and the results were consistent with his age, but even so, he says, “I wouldn’t say I’m blessed in terms of aging on antibiotics.”

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Now in his fifties, he says his work is of personal interest – “I’m as eager as anyone to find ways to slow down aging.” But it also takes into account the social and financial costs of an aging population. “We need to find ways to keep people healthier,” he says.

He hopes the changes to his watch will soon reflect changes in lifestyle and behavior. Investors and biotech companies are spending billions of dollars on drugs that can slow aging and delay disease. But how do we know what is effective? The discovery of medicine cannot wait for 50 years. Horvath hopes the clock will answer.

Companies like Insurance Group of America are exploring the epigenetic clock to improve and personalize risk assessment for life insurance. Currently, rates are based on demographics – people’s gender and age – and some health indicators, such as smoking. The clock adds another useful data point.

Such characterization raises questions of justice. If your epigenetic clock is running fast through no fault of your own, should you be paying higher interest rates for life insurance? The Genetic Information Ban Act – known as Gene A – protects against discrimination based on genes. But this is not the case with epigenetics.

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There is also the issue of privacy. Your life expectancy or actual biological age is information that many people consider personal. Currently, regulations and privacy policies do not even consider the availability of such information. But as science advances, questions about how to use and store this information will become more and more relevant.

Could the Horvath clock and other technology designed to predict death prove very useful? “I’ve never seen any of these predictive algorithms accurately predict time of death, quite the opposite,” says Diane Meyer, MD, a geriatrician at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York and the Segir Professor of Palliative Medicine. . “People spend a lot of time sick and sick,” he says.

Gal Solomon, CEO of Clew Medical, an Israeli company that uses artificial intelligence to diagnose medical risks in hospitals, says she initially resisted the idea of ​​creating a death prediction, saying it was unethical. . Then he realized that doctors could use technology to “understand where to stop.” The Clive algorithm can help doctors and family members decide whether to switch to more aggressive palliative care, he says, by overriding the hero’s general instinct to provide life-saving measures. According to him, the system, which is currently only used in hospitals, can warn the family that the end is near.

Atul Butt, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco who studies quality of care, says the jury is still out on whether this type of machine can provide better treatment than the usual care model. But it certainly is

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