AgeMeter: Physiological Biomarkers to Determine Functional Age

Developing a diagnostic system to measure human functional age in comparison to chronological age, and assist in the assessment of anti-aging therapeutics.

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AgeMeter — Are You Getting Any Younger?
Answering The Need for Improved Functional Age Testing

(view in: Spanish / Español, Russian / Русский)

 

As laboratories around the world work towards translating experimental anti-aging findings to human treatments, a self administered functional age test to validate interventions that aim to slow or reverse the aging process is greatly needed.

Our goal is to develop a low-cost, modular touch screen device for integrating multiple cognitive & biometric assessment technologies. This can be used to gather, analyze, and compare data in aging research scientific studies, and thereby increase the pace of longevity research.

AgeMeter stylistic tablet interface concept

Why Is This Needed?

The AgeMeterTM device will measure functional biomarkers of participants, estimating the age at which a person physically functions, enabling researchers to validate measurements from genetic and biochemical aging interventions and reliably compare results across subjects, studies and approaches.

Many laboratories have published results indicating the reversal or delay of various biomarkers of aging in model organisms and human cells, including cellular biomarkers such as telomere length, epigenome methylation status, expression of proteins specific to senescent cells and others, as well as morphological and functional tests, such as appearance, gait and balance, memory tests, etc. Thus far, however, there has been no fully integrated approach that can easily collect a variety of different data points from human participants, reliably correlating the output to functional age and comparing this against chronological age.

Being able to easily evaluate the effectiveness of a potential aging treatment in this way will allow longevity research to proceed at a faster rate, because meaningful data in regards to lifespan effect can be gathered in the middle of a study, not just at the end.

For this reason some of the world’s top longevity researchers have shown their support specifically for our project, as evinced by their following quotes:

Dr. David Sinclair AgeMeter Quote
  Harvard Scientists Dr. David Sinclair and Dr. George Church are two of the world’s most famous and honored researchers in the field, and they understand well the need for reliable biomarkers of aging. As a glimpse of their exciting work, Dr. Sinclair’s lab recently caused muscle tissue of 60 year old equivalent mice to resemble 20 years old after one week of injections of the molecule NMN, and here is a video of Dr. Church describing a gene altering technique accomplishing age reversal in a sample of his own cells.  
Dr. George Church AgeMeter Quote
  Dr. Aubrey de Grey, noted longevity advocate and Chief Science Officer of the SENS Research Foundation also understands that reliable physiological biomarkers for aging will be an important part of assessing potential anti-aging treatments. SENS has done pioneering work in classifying the types of damage that accrue in our bodies with age, some of which you will be familiar with if you have supported previous campaigns on Lifespan.io.  
Dr. Aubrey de Grey AgeMeter Quote

Also needed is the ability to reliably correlate the functional age, or phenotype, of participants with their genotype. This would greatly facilitate the search for genomic variations that may point the way towards uncovering the fundamental differences in rates of aging among different individuals. Toward that end, Dr. George Church and colleagues have been the initiators of the Personal Genome Project, whose goal is to obtain quality whole genome sequences of up to one thousand volunteers that would then be made publicly available to researchers. They are keenly interested in having such an easily deployed functional assay made available for such research.

AgeMeter: What Will It Test header

The AgeMeterTM will be a modernized successor to the H-SCAN functional age test that was originally developed in 1990 to assess physical biomarkers of aging. Building upon this work, our new AgeMeter device will test the following functional biomarkers, each accompanied by a guided demonstration video enabling users to complete tests without staff supervision:

1. Auditory reaction time (Fozard et al. 1994, Wolkorte et al. 2014)
2. Highest audible pitch
3. Vibrotactile sensitivity (sense of touch)
4. Visual reaction time (Woods et al. 2015)
5. Muscle movement time (Spirduso et al. 1975, Spirduso 1980, Ebaid et al. 2017)
6. Lung: forced vital capacity (Lee et al. 2017)
7. Lung: forced expiratory volume, 1 sec (Anstey et al. 2005, Lee et al. 2017)
8. Decision reaction time (Spirduso et al. 1975, Anstey et al. 2005)
9. Decision movement time (Spirduso et al. 1975)
10. Memory
11. Alternate button tapping (muscle coordination)
12. Visual perception (Anstey et al. 2005, Lockhart and Shi 2010)
General references: Hochchild 1989, Hochchild 1989, Klatz 2003, Butler et al. 2004

In the original device these parameters were then statistically correlated with the ages of 2,462 subjects, and based on this accumulated data new users received a report that estimated their functional vs. chronological age:

H-Scan Display Image 1
 
H-Scan Display Image 2
Screen capture of the original H-SCAN Spirometry report, providing volume-flow and volume-time data for three exhalations from a participant.   Screen capture of H-SCAN test report generated by the original device, showing a participant’s scores and percentiles based on a 2,462 person norm group.

The first iteration of the AgeMeterTM will be an updated version of this original H-SCAN functional age test, utilizing a touch screen tablet and modernized software. We also plan to research additional functional biomarkers of aging for use in future versions.

AgeMeter Initial Goal Header

For our initial goal we will purchase and configure prototype hardware that will include a touchscreen tablet computer and required peripherals to perform the above-mentioned physiological and cognitive tests.

We will then create appropriate user interface software for each test, along with software to manage the collection of test result data. The initial breakdown of development costs will be as follows:

AgeMeter Goal Budget Chart Image
Prototype Hardware: 20%
To obtain and configure tablet computer, and peripheral test devices such as a spirometer to measure lung air capacity.

User Interface: 30%
Programming of the tests themselves, and instructions interface for test takers.

Initial participant testing: 35%
Handling the logistics of sampling initial set of ~2500 users of various ages and backgrounds.

Software Functions and Database: 15%
Programming the collection and storage of data in a cloud database and associated service costs.

AgeMeter Project Timeline Header

The development pipeline of the initial goal will consist of:

1. Prepare detailed specifications and overall design of the device. The categories of these specifications include the Tablet, Biometric Testing Software, User Interface Software, Peripheral Interface Software, Database Development, Cloud Software Development for data aggregation and basic data visualizations, and Video Test Assistant Software to instruct users on proper testing.
[Estimated delivery: 1 month after campaign completion]

2. Build a functional prototype AgeMeter device for measuring aging biomarkers based on the above specifications.
[Estimated delivery: 3 months after campaign completion]

3. Build multiple AgeMeter units, based on the performance of our initial prototype, for use by researchers to create the initial database of aging base line values.
[Estimated delivery: 6 months after campaign completion]

4. Recruit researchers to test approximately 2,500 human participants in order to develop statistical models and functional age calculation algorithms, based on the results obtained for various ages, genders, education levels, ethnicities, etc. There will also be an opt-out process for participants to anonymously store their data in a cloud-based server so that the database of test values will automatically grow as new values are uploaded.
[Estimated delivery: 12 months after campaign completion]

Note: If you would like to be kept informed about opportunities to participate in this collection of our initial data set, please subscribe to the following list, and we will let you know of research locations and conferences where the AgeMeter will be collecting data:

The fulfillment of the above steps will culminate in a functional AgeMeter device suitable for aging research use, which will allow a test to be compared against baseline averages for analysis.

AgeMeter Stretch Goals Header

Stretch Goal 1 — $50,000
User Accounts and Personal Data History – The Quantified Self
Reaching this stretch goal will allow us to create software for a user account system for each test participant. This will enable users to store and access multiple test results, and therefore analyze the progression of one’s metrics over time and in response to potential anti-aging interventions.

To create this system we will obtain a Production Web Host Cloud subscription and set up a web server to manage user account access. This will include new data visualizations and reports that go beyond those created for the initial goal and that will be tailored to your individual metrics. Users will also be able to download their raw data and a summary report on how they compare to baseline averages. This data could then be contributed to the Personal Genome Project or Open Humans if a user participates in those projects.
AgeMeter Stretch Goal Image 1AgeMeter Stretch Goal Image 2
 
Stretch goal 2 — $80,000:
Additional Biomarker Development
Reaching this stretch goal will allow us to pursue the development of additional biomarker tests for future versions of the AgeMeter, increasing its ability to collect and analyze data.

For example we want to add computer vision analysis to track ability to hold an object steady within a target area and move between various targets fluidly, and measure how this ability alters with age. Another test we’d like to add is fingertip pulse oximeter measurements to detect blood oxygenation, both at baseline and in response to mental and physical exertion. Most ambitiously we also want to integrate Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) (for example McKendrick R, Parasuraman R and Ayaz H (2015), Front. Syst. Neurosci. 9:27) into our data gathering, as a measure of blood flow and oxygenation in the brain. Think of this as a safe and more portable fMRI that bounces a frequency of near infrared light up to approximately 4 centimeters into your brain!

The addition of more biomarkers such as these into future versions of the AgeMeter will make the entire suite of tests even more helpful to researchers, and we hope you’ll help us make their inclusion a reality.
  AgeMeter Stretch Goal Pulse Doctors ImageAgeMeter Stretch Goal Pulse Oximeter ImageAgeMeter Stretch Goal fNIRS Scan Image
An example of fNIRS imaging: McKendrick R, Parasuraman R and Ayaz H (2015), Front. Syst. Neurosci. 9:27
 

AgeMeter Campaign Team Header

Elliott Small
Founder, Centers for Age Control
AgeMeter Team Elliott SmallElliott holds a B.A. degree in Biochemical Sciences from Harvard University. He has been a chemist at General Foods, director of a government funded program: The Technology Commercialization Center in Washington DC, and a computer programmer. He is also the founder of a company that has 2 patents and 2 patents pending for rapid battery charging technologies. Elliott’s lifelong interest in science began at the age of 10, when he started experimenting with photo processing and electronics. From 1999 to 2013, he represented and eventually became sole distributor for the original H-SCAN functional age test used by medical practices and other care providers worldwide, personally selling the H-SCAN devices to customers in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Africa.
David Bartimus
AgeMeter Engineer, Software Architect
AgeMeter Team David BartimusDavid holds a B.S. degree in General Engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and is fluent in German.  He earned an E.I.T. license in the State of Illinois, a step towards professional licensure. David has designed industrial machinery, ag components, and worked in the automation industry for over six years. He also has five years of IT experience working at the University of Illinois, as a visiting research programmer. He has coordinated a multi-year, multi-million dollar automotive engineering data project abroad in Germany. His most recent commercial coding project was developing a mobile, web based, aerospace launch control monitoring system for a Fortune 500 company.

 
Alexander Hoekstra
AgeMeter Consultant, Project Manager for Personal Genome Project
AgeMeter Team Alex HoekstraAlexander Hoekstra holds a BS degree in Genomics and Molecular Genetics from Michigan State University. Alex was one of the principal organizers of the 2015 PGP Conference. He manages the PGP at the laboratory of Dr. George Church, in the Genetics Department of Harvard Medical School. Other affiliations are Michigan State Univ (Microbiology & Molecular Genetics Dept), National Institutes of Health (NIDDK), Wayne State University (Center for Molecular Medicine & Genetics).
 

AgeMeter Campaign Rewards Header

AgeMeter Campaign Reward Thank You

AgeMeter Campaign Reward Button and Sticker

AgeMeter Campaign Reward T-Shirt

AgeMeter Campaign Reward T-Shirt, Button, and Sticker

AgeMeter Campaign Reward Online Beta Access

AgeMeter Campaign Reward Tote Bag

AgeMeter Campaign Reward Tote Bag and T-Shirt

AgeMeter Campaign Reward Tote Bag, T-Shirt, and Online Beta Access

AgeMeter Campaign Reward Limited Edition Watch

AgeMeter Campaign Reward Video Chat With Team

AgeMeter Campaign Reward Veritas Genome Scan

Note: this reward is only available in the United States, and only in states other than New York. Please see the Veritas website for further information.

AgeMeter Campaign Reward Dinner With George Church

Campaign Reward Physical AgeMeter Unit

Please help us make the AgeMeter Biomarker Scan a reality, and help hasten the progress of longevity research.
Thank You.

5 Comments

  1. Nicolai Kilian Nicolai Kilian

    Hi, cool project. However, I wonder if these functional parameters are sufficient to estimate a person’s biological age? Are molecular / cellular / tissue biomarkers (mitochondrial health, vascular&skin elasticity etc.) negligible?

    • David Bartimus David Bartimus

      Hi; thanks for the question! We believe the functional parameters are sufficient to provide an estimate of a person’s biological age, and many of these tests have been in use for nearly 25 years (see citations above). At the same time, I would not discount cellular / molecular biomarkers, but rather view it as complimentary at the macro and micro scale. Our test is at the macro scale, and an advantage is it’s non-invasive, so no blood draw or tissue sampling and the small risks associated with it. Micro level tests (blood work, cellular, molecular) are informative, but you will also need macro level tests to see how certain aspect of your body’s system as a whole is working.

  2. Phil Oliver

    I’m wondering why this project has any focus on hardware? As far as I can tell (corrections welcome), the hardware component is simply a touchscreen tablet. Why isn’t the focus just on writing a cross-platform app that would work on the majority of touchscreens (i.e. iPads and Android devices), or indeed, full Windows computer touchscreen devices as well?

    • David Bartimus David Bartimus

      That’s a good question. We have the project split into a dual focus: hardware and cross platform. One of the reasons we have some focus on external hardware is for parameters that can not be measured by the sensor on a tablet, such as lung capacity. The software platform is being built on HTML5 and Javascript to be as portable as possible for a non-professional version, and portions that don’t require much processing power. The external hardware sensors are being integrated for the professional version, which is planned for Windows. We’re trying to plan with some extra capabilities in mind, such as computer vision motion target tracking. Hopefully, this answers your question.

      • Phil Oliver

        Dedicated hardware makes sense if it’s going to included specialized sensors. I had the impression that it was all software and data entry. Thanks.

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