Multiple news sources including Reuters and The New York Times have reported on a blood test that presumably can determine our biological age and health via detection of telomeres. Telomeres are repeated DNA sequences found at the ends of our chromosomes that serve to protect the chromosomes during cell division. Telomeres are known to shorten during cell division and as people age. Multiple companies have raced to develop methods of quantifying telomere length in our cells. One Spanish-based biotech company, Life Length, claims to have accurately created a blood test that determines both average telomere length and the percent of short telomeres in cells.
Some studies have suggested that people with shorter telomeres in their white blood cells are at increased risk for certain cancers, heart diseases, or possibly dying at a younger age.
The test by Life Length, to be available in Europe soon, will carry a hefty price tag of over $700. As may be expected, the marketing of such tests comes with its share of controversy given the limited data that’s available in predicting a person’s mortality or morbidity based on telomere length. Some experts fear life insurance companies will use the information to potentially alter premiums. Life Length believes the test can serve to promote future research into potential therapies as the cholesterol panel did in the past.
New York Times: A Blood Test Offers Clues to Longevity