DNA Methylation:

Unlocking the Fountain of Youth

In our previous exploration of the captivating realm of epigenetics, we’ve delved into how our genes can be influenced by our environment and choices. Now, let’s embark on a deeper understanding of a specific epigenetic mechanism known as DNA Methylation and its potential link to the groundbreaking concept of age reversal.

The Basics of DNA Methylation:

Imagine DNA as a long, intricate necklace with each bead representing a genetic instruction. DNA methylation is the process of adding tiny tags, called methyl groups, to specific beads on our DNA. Adding and removing these tags will either silence or enhance the expression of certain genes, influencing how our genes function[1].

Age and DNA Methylation:

Interestingly, scientists have known that certain patterns of DNA methylation correspond to distinct age stages. This allowed DNA methylation patterns to serve as biological clocks, helping to determine our age more accurately than the years we’ve lived. The only problem was that while scientists knew there was a link between methylation and aging, they weren’t sure if methylation caused aging or was the result of it.

This uncertainty was resolved just recently as the scientific team lead by Dr Sinclair has confirmed that irregularities in DNA epigenetic information do contribute to aging [2].

They managed to prove that over time, our DNA accumulates these methyl tags. This accumulation of methyl tags causes our gene expression to become uneven, some genes become overly quiet, while others might become too loud. This uneven gene expression can contribute to age-related changes and health conditions.

Unlocking the Potential of Age Reversal:

The concept of age reversal might sound like science fiction, but by now understanding the role of methylation in aging, researchers are exploring ways to restore the epigenetic information of our younger selves, basically resetting our biological clocks. This could mean potentially slowing down or even reversing certain aspects of aging!

Epigenetic “Reset” and Potential Benefits:

Scientists are now investigating various methods to “reset” DNA methylation patterns closer to a youthful state, including a novel method, OSK gene therapy [3]. We will delve more into the specifics of the mechanisms in a later time, but the potential benefits include improved tissue function, increased lifespan, and reduced susceptibility to age-related diseases.

The Road Ahead:

While we are not yet at the stage where we can entirely reverse aging, the excitement of age reversal through manipulation of our epigenetics will continue to drive more research, helping to bring us one step closer to being able to take many steps back in age.

References

1. Yang J-H, et al. Loss of epigenetic information as a cause of mammalian aging. Cell. 2023;186:305–326.e327. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2022.12.027.

2. Hayano, M, et al. DNA Break-Induced Epigenetic Drift as a Cause of Mammalian Aging. SSRN Electronic Journal. 10.2139/ssrn.3466338.

3. Lu, Y. et al. Reprogramming to recover youthful epigenetic information and restore vision. Nature 588, 124–129 (2020).

Functional medicine Malaysia doctor

Author:
Dr. Shirley Koeh
Date:
04 September 2023

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