This A.I. can predict how long you'll live—and it's free

A company specializing in A.I. medicine will tell you how long you’re likely to live.

How much life do you have left?
Tick, tick (Insilico Medicine)

“He not busy being born is busy dying,” sang Bob Dylan, and of course he’s right. We’re all ticking time bombs in our way. We think that, by and large, we pass on in order of age, but that’s just one metric, and it’s a pretty coarse-grained one. There are lots of other predictors of longevity, and each has its own health and “age”—its own clock, if you will. Young.AI is a new project currently in beta testing that uses A.I. to track the “age” of our systems in order to derive a more meaningful prediction of our biological age, and thus our lifespan. It seeks to identify the weakest clocks as the ones most likely to become life-threatening. 



(Insilico Medicine)

Young.AI is a project of Insilico Medicine, whose mission is the use of “Artificial Intelligence For Drug Discovery, Biomarker Development & Aging Research.” It follows a deep-learning analysis by Insilico of blood tests from 130,000 South Koreans, Canadians, and Eastern Europeans. Scientists from Johns Hopkins, University of Oxford, and other research institutions participated in the study. This was apparently the largest such analysis ever performed in the longevity field, and it produced a model using “several deep learning-based predictors of biological age trained upon population-specific blood biochemistry and haematological cell count datasets.” It was published in the Journal of Gerontology

 

 

Polina Mamoshina, a senior research scientist at Insilico Medicine, says that “today, thanks to A.I. and the incredibly fast computational power of our deep learning neural networks, we can discover patterns and formulas in a huge pool of blood work that could not be discovered just a few years ago.”

The project looked at 21 commonly measured blood parameters such as cholesterol, inflammation markers (CRP), hemoglobin count, and albumin levels, along with 17 other chemical indicators. Through A.I. analysis aligning blood chemistry with age, ethnicity and other data, Insilico believes it’s produced an algorithm that offers the “first truly reliable aging clock for humans.” It says that now, simply through the analysis of a single drop of blood, it can determine an individual’s life expectancy.


Insilico Medicine

Anyone can find out what their medical future looks like according to Insilico’s algorithm by going to the Young.AI website. The analysis is free. Participants have to have their blood locally tested for 18 parameters, and then upload the results to the Young.AI site, along with a facial photo for another Insilico AI algorithm that can assess aging based on visual indicators. It only takes a few seconds for the site to return a report. If it shows a biological clock age that’s older than one’s chronological age, Insilico hopes that the analysis can help subjects take the necessary steps to shore up their weakest indicators before it's too late.

Insilico’s CEO, Alex Zhavoronkov, says, “Our test gives people a sober look at how fast or slow their biological clock is ticking. And for those who learn that their bodies are aging at a fast, unhealthy rate, the test will hopefully serve as a wake-up call, convincing them to take steps now that will add years to their life later—all this insight from a blood test.”

Since we still have much to learn about how and why the progression of ill health manifests in our systems over time, it remains to be seen how accurately a snapshot of your blood chemistry values today can serve as a predictor of your eventual health, A.I. and deep learning notwithstanding. As an indicator of your condition right now, though, it’s clear that a Young.AI report would have value as a guide for informing your behavior. As far as it seeing into your future goes, you might want to keep an open mind. Only time will truly tell.

 

 

 

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Credit: National Cancer Institute via Unsplash
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This article was originally published by our sister site, Freethink.

For the first time, researchers appear to have effectively treated a genetic disorder by directly injecting a CRISPR therapy into patients' bloodstreams — overcoming one of the biggest hurdles to curing diseases with the gene editing technology.

The therapy appears to be astonishingly effective, editing nearly every cell in the liver to stop a disease-causing mutation.

The challenge: CRISPR gives us the ability to correct genetic mutations, and given that such mutations are responsible for more than 6,000 human diseases, the tech has the potential to dramatically improve human health.

One way to use CRISPR to treat diseases is to remove affected cells from a patient, edit out the mutation in the lab, and place the cells back in the body to replicate — that's how one team functionally cured people with the blood disorder sickle cell anemia, editing and then infusing bone marrow cells.

Bone marrow is a special case, though, and many mutations cause disease in organs that are harder to fix.

Another option is to insert the CRISPR system itself into the body so that it can make edits directly in the affected organs (that's only been attempted once, in an ongoing study in which people had a CRISPR therapy injected into their eyes to treat a rare vision disorder).

Injecting a CRISPR therapy right into the bloodstream has been a problem, though, because the therapy has to find the right cells to edit. An inherited mutation will be in the DNA of every cell of your body, but if it only causes disease in the liver, you don't want your therapy being used up in the pancreas or kidneys.

A new CRISPR therapy: Now, researchers from Intellia Therapeutics and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals have demonstrated for the first time that a CRISPR therapy delivered into the bloodstream can travel to desired tissues to make edits.

We can overcome one of the biggest challenges with applying CRISPR clinically.

—JENNIFER DOUDNA

"This is a major milestone for patients," Jennifer Doudna, co-developer of CRISPR, who wasn't involved in the trial, told NPR.

"While these are early data, they show us that we can overcome one of the biggest challenges with applying CRISPR clinically so far, which is being able to deliver it systemically and get it to the right place," she continued.

What they did: During a phase 1 clinical trial, Intellia researchers injected a CRISPR therapy dubbed NTLA-2001 into the bloodstreams of six people with a rare, potentially fatal genetic disorder called transthyretin amyloidosis.

The livers of people with transthyretin amyloidosis produce a destructive protein, and the CRISPR therapy was designed to target the gene that makes the protein and halt its production. After just one injection of NTLA-2001, the three patients given a higher dose saw their levels of the protein drop by 80% to 96%.

A better option: The CRISPR therapy produced only mild adverse effects and did lower the protein levels, but we don't know yet if the effect will be permanent. It'll also be a few months before we know if the therapy can alleviate the symptoms of transthyretin amyloidosis.

This is a wonderful day for the future of gene-editing as a medicine.

—FYODOR URNOV

If everything goes as hoped, though, NTLA-2001 could one day offer a better treatment option for transthyretin amyloidosis than a currently approved medication, patisiran, which only reduces toxic protein levels by 81% and must be injected regularly.

Looking ahead: Even more exciting than NTLA-2001's potential impact on transthyretin amyloidosis, though, is the knowledge that we may be able to use CRISPR injections to treat other genetic disorders that are difficult to target directly, such as heart or brain diseases.

"This is a wonderful day for the future of gene-editing as a medicine," Fyodor Urnov, a UC Berkeley professor of genetics, who wasn't involved in the trial, told NPR. "We as a species are watching this remarkable new show called: our gene-edited future."

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