The actual age of a person not only depends on the date he or she was born. Biological age, which is far more important in determining lifespan, can so far only be estimated rather than precisely calculated. The European MARK-AGE research project is working on finding a solution to this problem. Esslingen plays a major role in this project for two reasons: the structure of the city and the company BioTeSys.
BioTeSys is not only in charge of recruiting volunteers and collecting samples. The company is also involved in the analysis of the different biomarkers. Numerous parameters have to be determined for every study participant, including classical blood pictures as well as oxidative stress markers. For comparative reasons, each work group is focusing on a limited number of markers. BioTeSys is in charge of determining the intracellular vitamin content in the mouth mucosa of all 3,700 MARK-AGE study participants. The test was developed by BioTeSys and is currently the only of one its kind available. “This tests helps us to obtain information on the actual vitamin supply of cells,” explains Bernhart. The vitamin concentration in blood does not always correlate with the intracellular vitamin status. “In a study involving undernourished people, we have already discovered that there are huge differences between the people examined, including genetic differences,” said Bernhardt.All biomarkers analysed in the MARK-AGE project have already previously been associated with ageing processes. However, the variability between individual markers is so great that it has previously been impossible to develop a reliable test to determine an individual’s biological age. MARK-AGE now hopes to investigate the large number of different parameters in a common context. “The use of biostatistical methods will open up the possibility of potentially detecting new correlations in the complex mechanisms of ageing,” explains Bernhardt. MARK-AGE’s long-term goal is to go one step further: the researchers are hoping to use the biomarkers to develop a formula that will enable them to determine the biological age of a person as precisely as possible. For preventive medicine, this would herald the onset of a new era.