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Epigenetic Signature of Aging Also Found Among Tumor Tissues

Researchers have uncovered an epigenetic signature that is common to both aging and cancer, as they report in Science Advances. While somatic mutations that arise as cells divide contribute to aging-related cancer risk, researchers from Yale University School of Medicine note that DNA methylation can also change as cells divide and may also contribute to oncogenic transformation. Using immortalized fetal astrocytes, the researchers identified DNA methylation changes that occur with replication, which they used to establish the Cellular Division and Replication Induced FingerprinT, or CellDRIFT, signature. By analyzing this signature in a rage of tissue types, both cancerous and non-cancerous, the researchers found that it increased with age and could distinguish tumor tissue from healthy. "While tissue-specific stem cell division rates may set a baseline risk of cancer development in various tissues, individual differences in cancer risk may not be entirely luck based and instead might in part reflect differential epigenetic aging rates," the researchers write. "Hence, there is a need for research into interventions to slow or reverse the accumulation of epigenetic changes with age."

Epigenetics, in the journals, Scan