Medical Discovery NewsBridging the World of Medical Discovery and You

Recent Episodes

Aging and Our Biological Clock


Have you ever wondered how and why we age? That is among the key questions on aging. Another is whether all our cells age at the same rate along chronological time. These questions have puzzled scientists for years.

Could knowing the "aging clock" allow us to slow or roll back biological time? We're closer to an answer. Researchers found a means to track our cells' biological age by comparing DNA methylation between healthy and cancerous tissue. The process of DNA methylation is how our cells control which genes are active at any given time.

This gave researchers a comprehensive look at changes in the cells which allowed them to track time. After examining eight thousand samples from fifty different human tissues around the body, they found while most tissues' biological age matched their chronological age, some did not.

A woman's breast tissue is two to three years older than her other tissues. In a woman with breast cancer, the adjacent healthy tissue is up to twelve years older than other body tissue and the cancer cells themselves are thirty six years older. This could explain why breast cancer is prevalent and why we all face greater cancer risk with age.

Plus, our biological clock isn't constant, going much faster from birth through adolescence, then slowing to a more constant rate in our twenties. As for our stem cells, they are the age of newborns. That means if adult cells are reprogrammed into pluripotent stem cells, which we can do in the lab, these cells' biological clock get reset to zero!

Could we actually tap into a real fountain of youth? We are of course getting way ahead of ourselves. But with these discoveries, it is not far-fetched to contemplate slowing or reversing the aging process.

More Information

Scientist Uncovers Internal Clock Able to Measure Age of Most Human Tissues
"Everyone grows older, but scientists don't really understand why. Now a UCLA study has uncovered a biological clock embedded in our genomes that may shed light on why our bodies age and how we can slow the process. Published in the Oct. 21 edition of Genome Biology, the findings could offer valuable insights into cancer and stem cell research"

DNA methylation age of human tissues and cell types
Original journal article by Dr. Steve Horvath published in Genome Biology

UCLA scientists may have found "biological clock" in genes
"Researchers have discovered a "biological clock" embedded in the human genome that can indicate how old a person's tissues and cells really are. The hope is with this clock, they may eventually find a way to slow or reverse aging in some parts of the body."


Medicine is constantly advancing – that is a great thing about life in the 21st century. But it doesn’t just happen. Dedicated biomedical scientists are making discoveries that translate into those new medical advances.

Biomedical science is broad, encompassing everything from social science to microbiology, biochemistry, epidemiology, to structural biology and bioinformatics to name just a few areas. And, it can involve basic fundamental biology, the use of AI and chemistry to clinical studies that evaluate new medicines in patients.

No matter the research focus, the goal is always the same, to advance human health. It may take a few months, a few years or for fundamental science, a few decades. Few people make the connection that biomedical science is medicine and that biomedical scientists are working today on the medicine of tomorrow. Our weekly 500-word newspaper columns and 2-minute radio shows and podcasts provide insights into a broad range of biomedical science topics.

Medical Discovery News is dedicated to explaining discoveries in biomedical research and their promise for the future of medicine.


Alternatively, you can copy and paste the following web address (URL) into iTunes as a new subscription:

You can also search and subscribe to "Medical Discovery News" in the podcast section of iTunes.

See all podcasts and radio stations

The web site and Medical Discovery News radio program (Program) are made possible by The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB)as a community service and are intended to advance UTMB's mission of providing scholarly teaching, innovative scientific investigation, and state-of-the-art patient care in a learning environment to better the health of society and its commitment to the discovery of new innovative biomedical and health services knowledge leading to increasingly effective and accessible health care for the citizens of Texas.

All information provided on the web site and in the Program is for informational purposes only and is not intended for use as diagnosis or treatment of a health problem or as a substitute for consulting a licensed medical professional. Any information obtained by participating as a web site visitor or program listener is not intended to and should not be considered to constitute medical advice.

Thoughts and opinions expressed on the Program or on the website are those of the authors or guests and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of UTMB. The provision of links to other websites is not to be construed as written or implied sponsorship or endorsement of such websites by UTMB.

Please contact Dr. David Niesel or Dr. Norbert Herzog via email with any concerns, suggestions or comments.

All rights are reserved to information provided on the website or other information sources. No part of these programs can be reproduced stored in a retrieval system or transcribed in any form or by any means for personal or financial gained without the express written permission of Drs. Niesel and Dr. Herzog.