Aging, Genetics, Social Determinants of Health

Epigenetic and social factors both predict aging and health – but new research suggests one might be stronger

For years, researchers have been using clinical factors normally collected at physicals, like hypertension, cholesterol and weight, as indicators to predict aging. The idea was that these measures could determine whether someone is a fast or slow ager at any point in their life cycle. But more recently, researchers have theorized that there are other biological markers that reflect aging at the molecular and cellular level. This includes modifications to a person’s genetic material itself, or epigenetics.

Schematic of DNA double helix
Biotechnology, Genetics

When it comes to the rarest of diseases, the diagnosis isn’t the answer – it’s just the starting point

Major advances in the precision and speed of gene sequencing technology followed by dramatic reductions in the costs of testing – have radically changed how medical genetics clinics function. But while sequencing can provide confirmation of a suspected, well-understood condition, it frequently results in a situation like that faced by the Smiths, where the testing result shows an incredibly rare disorder with little known about it.