We’re obsessed with aging, but how does the process work? STOmics reveals how our genetic code affects developments in the body over time.
The process of aging is something that happens to all of us, yet it is still poorly understood. It is a crucial factor for many chronic diseases and as we all live longer lives, often living into older age with multiple long-term conditions, the process of aging becomes an issue for our health systems and policy makers.
While there is not a clear way to explain aging, researchers have tried to understand how it works, how we can influence it, and what aging can tell us about various health conditions.
In a multi-omics study published in Cell Reports in March 2022 BGI-Research and an international team of researchers used biomarkers, statistical modelling, and other techniques to develop tools for measuring the biological ages of various organ systems. Based on their findings, they found that there are multiple “clocks” within the body that vary widely based on factors including genetics and lifestyle in each individual. And since aging is not linear for all the parts of your body, your heart might be aging at a different pace than your lungs, for example.
While we are able to detect some aspects of aging in others by eye -- babies grow to young adults and the elderly start to get grey hairs -- the science of genomics can help to answer deeper questions we have around our aging bodies. New techniques in genomics such as BGI Group’s Stereo-seq technology gives us an insight into how our genetic code translates into changes in our body over time – we can examine specific cells and how they interact with other cells as they develop into tissues and as they age.
Stereo-seq is a transformational technology allowing every biological process to be presented at a resolution that has never been seen before. From the scale of the whole embryo or whole organ, the technology shows the type and location of each cell at each stage and the temporal and spatial dynamic changes in these cells. As more research is done this will give scientists a clearer understanding of how a fertilized egg develops into a complete individual, how diseases occur, and how we age.
STOmics enables us to measure gene activity and map where the activity is taking place. It will help uncover the biomolecular causality in development atlases and aging atlases. By widening our understanding of these individual processes, doctors will be able to determine how to better support us as we age.
As life expectancies are rising, knowing the effects of aging at a deeper level, is more important than ever before to ensure a good quality of life. Research using STOmics gives an opportunity to explore the secrets of aging and extend the portion of life spent in good health. By allowing us to see how our genes translate to aging tissues in space and time, STOmics is a real window into the signs, and the science, of aging.