The study, published in the journal Aging Cell on Friday, used biomarker data collected from 5,000 blood samples and analysed it against the donors’ health developments over the subsequent eight years.
Together, they identified patterns which indicated both good and bad futures. Specifically, their chances of getting age-related diseases, such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
In all, the researchers generated 26 different predictive biomarker signatures.
The breakthrough means patients will be able to identify realistic health risks early on – and, crucially, modify behaviour to change the outcome.
Lead authors Professors Dr Paola Sebastiani and Dr Thomas Perls said: ‘These signatures depict differences in how people age, and they show promise in predicting healthy ageing, changes in cognitive and physical function, survival and age-related diseases like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
‘It sets the stage for a molecular-based definition of ageing that leverages information from multiple circulating biomarkers to generate signatures associated with different mortality and morbidity risk.’
They added: ‘Many prediction and risk scores already exist for predicting specific diseases like heart disease.
‘Here, though, we are taking another step by showing that particular patterns of groups of biomarkers can indicate how well a person is ageing and his or her risk for specific age-related syndromes and diseases.’
The researchers noted that more studies on larger groups of people are still needed to further confirm the results.