Chronological age has been typically used as a way to gauge how someone is aging; however, this is a poor measure indeed. People tend to age at different rates due to a variety of reasons: environment, diet, diseases in earlier life, stress, exercise, and lifestyle all play a role in how a person ages.
Clearly, a better way to measure aging is needed if we are to accurately assess how someone is aging for the purposes of health monitoring and research. One potential method is to use functional aging.
Functional aging is defined as a combination of the chronological, physiological, mental, and emotional ages of a person, which, combined, give an overall measure of that person’s rate of aging.
As research efforts intensify towards developing effective rejuvenation therapies, the need for cost-effective ways of measuring functional aging becomes all the more urgent. A self-administered functional age test would be a very useful tool in determining the efficacy of interventions and measuring how a person is aging. Such a system could also be used by physicians to aid health assessment and, therefore, could be of great value in helping people maintain health.
Today, we have an interview with Elliott Small, one of the designers of the AgeMeter functional aging system. The AgeMeter is currently part of a fundraising campaign on Lifespan.io to develop this system, which you can check out here.
The H-Scan system back in the 1990s was a similar system to the AgeMeter. Can you tell us how your system improves on this earlier device?
1. The user interface is updated to the current state of the art.
2. There is no need to purchase a computer to use the system. The system is a touchscreen tablet computer.
3. The 6-button console is eliminated. The buttons appear on the touchscreen.
4. Internet cloud technology is used to automatically install software upgrades, automatically update the aging index as the number of people tested grows, provide storage and access to results for the clients of each AgeMeter owner, and provide access by individual clients to all of their test results.
5. We will regularly provide improvement upgrades by changing or adding the latest useful functional biomarker tests to new versions of the AgeMeter.
Can you explain the reasons behind why you chose the biomarkers you did for the system?
The biomarkers were selected after extensive research to determine what combination can best provide a general indication of a person’s functional age. The true measure of how a person is aging is to measure actual capabilities required to function normally. That work was done by the H-SCAN company and published in the Journal of Gerontology.
Functional aging is a great and relatively easy system to determine rate of aging; what other metrics do you consider particularly useful for aging research, specifically the kinds of tests researchers would use in the lab?
There are biological age tests done on a blood sample, and there are biological age genetic tests that use a blood or saliva sample to measure age. One advantage of the AgeMeter is that it does not require the cost of a lab test each time that it is taken.
What are the most practical things people can do now to maintain health while rejuvenation biotechnology is being developed to address the aging processes?
In other words, how do we tread water until the longevity boat arrives? First of all, we must have a healthy lifestyle to reduce the chance of premature aging. That means eating the right foods, maintaining proper weight, regular exercise, etc. Doctors can provide advice for that and where to get further information.
Also, we should take advantage of any aging interventions that already slow or reverse aging to some extent. There are supplements emerging from scientific studies that indicate that certain molecules may reverse or slow some aspects of aging to a limited extent.
We would like to thank Dr. Small for taking the time to talk with us today and wish him luck in his campaign to raise funds to develop the AgeMeter.