Using omic data to develop and validate biomarkers of ageing

Posted: 22 February 2024 | | No comments yet

Researchers highlight the need for considering biomarkers alongside other health outcomes, as well as the need for omic data standardisation.

Genomic sequences visualization graph.

Led by Harvard University researchers, a new study has provided a framework for standardising the development and validation of biomarkers of ageing using omic data from population-based studies. This will improve predictions of longevity and quality of life. 

Ageing is a process associated with multiple biological changes, including increased molecular and cellular damage. To offer a standardised means to evaluate biomarkers related to ageing, the team analysed population-based cohort studies built on omic data of blood-based biomarkers of ageing. Then, the scientists compared the predictive strength of different biomarkers, including study design and data collection approaches, and observed how these biomarkers presented in different populations. 

To better assess the impact of ageing using biomarkers, the researchers highlighted that clinicians need to consider how biomarkers of ageing are associated with numerous other health outcomes, such as frailty, functional decline, chronic disease and disability, as well as mortality. The standardisation of omic data is also required to improve reliability. 

Co-first author Dr Mahdi Moqri, from the Division of Genetics, explained: “Omics and biomarkers harmonisation efforts, such as the Biolearn project, are instrumental in validation of biomarkers of ageing… Biolearn is an open-source project for biomarkers of ageing and is helping to harmonise existing ageing biomarkers, unify public datasets, and provide computational methodologies.”

More research is needed to understand how implementation of biomarker evaluation in clinical trials could improve patient quality of life and survival. Co-first author Dr Jesse Poganik of the Division of Genetics concluded: “If we hope to have clinical trials for interventions that extend healthy lifespan in humans, we need reliable, validated biomarkers of ageing…We hope that our framework will help prioritise the most promising biomarkers and provide health care providers with clinically valuable and actionable tools.”

This study was published in Nature Medicine.

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