Researchers analysed blood samples from 44,168 individuals, aged between 18–109 years, to identify blood biomarkers that can predict a person’s mortality risk up to 10 years in advance.
Won’t it be nice if major health risks could be predicted in advance that gave you enough time and opportunity to take corrective steps to advert an illness? Findings from a recent research study may have taken us one step closer to that goal.
In the largest research project of its kind, scientists have identified 14 biomarkers in the blood which are associated with a person’s lifespan, reflecting various metabolic processes. These include various amino acids – the building blocks of proteins – blood lipid measures, fatty acids, and biomarkers of glycolysis, fluid balance and inflammation. Based on the biomarker score, researchers were able to predict mortality risk more clearly than compared to more commonly used risk factors, such as disease history, blood pressure and smoking.
What makes the findings of the study outstanding is that no such predictive information was earlier available from the established risk factors. The results show that high-risk individuals, identified by these biomarkers, have 13 times higher mortality risks than those classified as low-risk. These results were consistent for both middle-aged as well as older individuals. This again is a rare finding as it is not usually found in established risk factors such as body mass index or cholesterol levels.
The study, with the help of Nightingale Health’s blood analysis platform, examined blood samples of 44,168 individuals from 12 cohorts. The participants came from five different European countries, aged between 18 to 109 years and were tracked for many years after the sampling was done. However, all the biomarkers were analysed from a single blood sample taken from each participant.
The findings of this study have massive potential and make a huge headway for preventive care. The biomarker score could be used not only in clinical practices from guiding treatment strategies but could be used to help people track their general wellness.
The blood analysis is intended as a first step towards a more personalised treatment and clinical utility, explains Prof. Johannes Kettunen from the University of Oulu. “Our next objective is to study whether we could utilise the biomarker panel to identify individuals in high-risk patient settings for more thorough follow-ups. Such information has not been available before and we will evaluate the value of these results for patient care in follow-up studies.”
“Apart from being used to assess the risk of mortality and guide treatment decisions, these biomarkers could potentially be used as a general health index. "We are working hard to make this exciting biomarker data available not only for researchers but implement it in various healthcare settings. These new results further emphasis the strong scientific basis to release this," says Peter Würtz, Scientific director at Nightingale Health. Going forward, researchers also plan to further investigate the biomarker score and its association with the immune system, metabolism, muscle strength and even cognition.
This large-scale study was possible through an international collaboration of biobanks, universities and research institutes. According to the researchers, Nightingale’s method by which the biomarkers were measured, is easy to perform and affordable even when applied in large study populations. The measurement can, therefore, be performed in ongoing studies with large numbers of community-dwelling and hospital-based patient samples. The researchers have described their results in the scientific journal Nature Communications.