New DNA ‘clock’ to help measure young children’s development

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Researchers have formulated a molecular “clock” that could shape again how pediatricians measure and examine childhood growth and potential license for an earlier diagnosis of life-altering development diseases.

The research, circulated this week in PNAS, interprets how the addition of chemical tabs to DNA over time can potentially be utilized to screen for developmental discrepancies and health difficulties in children.

The study was led by experimenters at BC Children’s Hospital, the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the University of California, Los Angeles.

It is the preliminary study to interpret a method specifically established for children, called the Pediatric-Buccal-Epigenetic (PedBE) clock, which gauges chemical changes to infer the biological age of a child’s DNA.

5-dna
New DNA ‘clock’ to help measure young children’s development

Tiny chemical changes to DNA, named as epigenetic changes, measure how genes are conveyed in certain tissues and cells. Some of these differences happen as a person grows and others may be in response to a person’s climate or life knowledge.

In adults, these habits of epigenetic differences are well established. They can be utilized to accurately foresee a person’s age from a DNA specimen or, if a person’s epigenetic age changes from their actual age, it can suggest differences in health, comprising age-related diseases and early mortality.

“We have aa nice idea how these DNA differences occur in adults, but until now we did not have a tool that was particular for children,” says Dr. Michael Kobor, elderly author of the study. “These DNA differences occur at very various rates in kids and so we modified this technique for younger ages.”

Kobor is an operative at BC Children’s Hospital and the Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics, a professor in the Department of Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia, the Tier one Canada Research Chair in Social Epigenetics and the Sunny Hill BC Leadership Chair in Child Development.

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