Blood Test That Can Predict Death, With Terrifying Accuracy

A blood test to determine how fast someone is ageing has been shown to work on a population of wild birds, the first time the ageing test has been used successfully on animals living outside a laboratory setting.

The test measures the average length of tiny structures on the tips of chromosomes called telomeres which are known to get shorter each time a cell divides during an organism’s lifetime.

Telomeres are believed to act like internal clocks by providing a more accurate estimate of a person’s true biological age rather than their actual chronological age.

This has led some experts to suggest that telomere tests could be used to estimate not only how fast someone is ageing, but possibly how long they have left to live if they die of natural causes.

Now scientists have performed telomere tests on an isolated population of songbirds living on an island in the Seychelles and found that the test does indeed accurately predict an animal’s likely lifespan.

“We saw that telomere length is a better indicator of life expectancy than chronological age. So by measuring telomere length we have a way of estimating the biological age of an individual — how much of its life it has used up,” said David Richardson of the University of East Anglia.

The researchers tested the average telomere lengths of a population of 320 Seychelles Warblers living on the remote Cousin Island.

“Our results provide the first clear and unambiguous evidence of a relationship between telomere length and mortality in the wild, and substantiate the prediction that telomere length and shortening rate can act as an indicator of biological age further to chronological age,” says the study published in the journal Molecular Ecology .The Times of India

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