An American scientist has discovered an internal body clock based on a person's DNA that can measure the biological age of tissues and organs, reported British newspaper The Guardian on Monday.
The clock shows that some tissues age faster or slower, although many healthy tissues age at the same rate as the body as a whole.
It was also found that the age of diseased organs varied greatly with some being tens of years “older” than healthy tissues in the body, according to the clock.
The findings of the mechanisms behind the clock can lead to understanding the ageing process and help with finding drugs and other interventions that slow it down, according to the Guardian.
“Ultimately, it would be very exciting to develop therapy interventions to reset the clock and hopefully keep us young,” Steve Horvath, professor of genetics and biostatistics at the University of California in Los Angeles was quoted as saying by the Guardian.
The scientist looked at the DNA of nearly 8,000 samples of 51 different healthy and cancerous cells and tissues. He specifically looked at how methylation, a natural process that chemically modifies DNA, varied with age.
It was also found that the clock's rate speeds up or slows down depending on a person's age, it ticks faster in the early years up to around age 20 but slows down to a steadier rate later.
The Guardian also reported that the newly-discovered clock has already revealed that female breast tissue aged faster than the rest of the body, on average appearing two years older. Diseased tissues also aged at different rates, with cancers speeding up the clock by an average of 36 years.
“Female breast tissue, even healthy tissue, seems to be older than other tissues of the human body. That's interesting in the light that breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Also, age is one of the primary risk factors of cancer, so these types of results could explain why cancer of the breast is so common,” Horvath told The Guardian.