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Cellular 'fingerprint' may offer early warning of cancer risk

A new study has identified a cellular "fingerprint" that may be used to predict who is at risk of developing cancer. The fingerprint, called CellDRIFT, is associated with both aging and cancer.

The study, published in the journal Science Advances, was conducted by researchers at Yale University. They found that CellDRIFT is escalated in aging tissues, cancerous tissues, and even normal tissues from patients with cancer.

"We found that we could quantify age as more than just a number," said Christopher Minteer, Ph.D., who was first author of the study. "We were able to show that there's more to cancer risk than random variation from stem cell mutations."

The researchers believe that CellDRIFT could be used to develop new early detection tests for cancer. They also believe that it could be used to identify people who are at high risk of developing cancer so that they can be monitored more closely.

"This gives us some hope that we could perhaps assay some level of risk prior to disease," said Minteer.

The study is the latest in a growing body of research that suggests that aging is a major risk factor for cancer. As people age, their cells accumulate more mutations, which can lead to cancer.

The researchers hope that their findings will help scientists better understand how to delay the onset of chronic diseases such as cancer that appear related to aging. They also hope that it will help people live longer, healthier lives.

Journal Information: Christopher J. Minteer et al, More than bad luck: Cancer and aging are linked to replication-driven changes to the epigenome, Science Advances (2023). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.adf4163
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