Kang Zhang’s research on epigenetic indicators of aging highlighted in the New York Times

​A recent article on biomarkers of aging discussed CEN PI Kang Zhang’s recent work at length, emphasizing its potential to drastically change how clinicians evaluate health. Zhang suggests that an “easy way to measure biological age will have a wide array of applications in prediction and prevention of age-related diseases, drug discovery and forensics,” though co-lead on the study Trey Ideker, UC San Diego’s chief of the genetics division, cautions that “we’re still far from having a diagnostic for biological aging.”

By analyzing methylation of the full genome of over 600 individuals aged 19 to 101, the study revealed a set of 71 methylation markers that are highly predictive of age. The team further showed that variations in aging rate as reflected in methylation patterns were associated with specific genetic variants and that tumor cells’ methylation patterns reflect much faster biological aging rates than normal cells.