Geroscience: the science related to ageing

News Excerpt:

Dr Daniel Belsky, an epidemiologist at Columbia University in New York, has coined the term ‘geroscience’, which means geriatric or related to age.

About Geroscience:

  • They study the formation of methyl groups through an enzyme in the DNA of senior citizens and find that this methylation is sensitive to ageing. This is often referred to as ‘gerozyme’.
  • It is a novel blood test that determines the pace at which a person is ageing.
  • The methyl group is one of the commonest structural units of organic compounds
  • It consists of three hydrogen atoms bonded to a carbon atom, which is linked to the remainder of the molecule. 
  • The methyl radical (CH3), the methyl cation (CH+3), and the methyl anion (CH-3)34 are transient intermediates in many chemical reactions.

Several groups are working on drugs and other related methods to modulate the gerozyme.

  • Dr Belsky’s group studied the levels of DNA methylation in people across socioeconomic backgrounds (poor-rich, rural-urban) and found that socioeconomic disadvantage plays a role.

Healthy Ageing: Healthy ageing is about creating the environments and opportunities that enable people to be and do what they value throughout their lives. Everybody can experience healthy ageing. Being free of disease or infirmity is not a requirement for healthy ageing, as many older adults have one or more health conditions that, when well controlled, have little influence on their wellbeing.

Factors supporting healthy ageing:

  • The website states that healthy sources of proteins, healthy fats, and foods rich in antioxidants, such as healthy fats, vegetables, foods rich in oils, and plenty of fruits, help support healthy ageing.
  • suggests that proteins (animal and vegetable), nutritive grains (wheat, rice, ragi, bajra), oils, fruits, and soft drinks help with healthy ageing.
  • Mayo Clinic in Minnesota offers seven benefits of regular physical activity that inhibit the gerozyme.
    • Regular exercise controls weight, combats health conditions and diseases like stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, improves our mood, boosts energy, enables better sleep, and improves sex life.
  • Music may even modulate gerozyme and be a cure for dementia.

Healthy ageing is of particular value to people in India since about 10 crores (out of a total population of 143 crores) are above the age of 60.


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