Universal epigenetic clocks provide insights into why mammals are ‘born to die’ 8 August 2023 Benjamin Franklin famously stated ‘in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes’. But why are we ‘born to die’ and what mechanisms underpin the gradual decline in biological functions (senescence) in living organisms, and ultimately their death? We are at an exciting point in ageing research: a Universal Mammalian Clock Chip has been developed using data on DNA methylation (DNAm) from a wide range of mammals and tissue types to predict the chronological age of any mammal species accurately from a single equation, also showing how DNAm changes in predictable ways over an animal’s life. Two new papers1,2 provide remarkable insights into ageing. The findings reveal great potential for estimating a mammal’s chronological age when it is not known, for understanding why some individuals age faster than expected for their chronological age, and for understanding factors affecting the large variation in the lifespans of different mammal species.
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