The most precise measure of biological age: The science behind Index

Elysium’s biological age test, Index, is the most precise measure of epigenetic age available and a more accurate predictor of how your body is expected to function than previous leading measures. Why is a measure of biological age—and the accuracy of such a measure—important? 


In order to develop interventions that support long-term health and wellness, we need reliable measures to track the effectiveness of these interventions. While chronological age has typically been relied upon in the past as correlative with a person’s health and wellness, it’s become apparent that not everyone ages at the same rate. An accurate measure of the biological and physiological hallmarks of aging can offer enormous potential for personalized health protocols. That measure must be precise and repeatable.


Improving the Reliability and Accuracy of Biological Age Tests

Precision and reliability are significant challenges for measuring biological age at the individual level. A single sample processed repeatedly can result in epigenetic age estimates that vary up to nine years. To develop the most precise and reliable test, Elysium partnered with Morgan Levine, Ph.D., of Yale University—a leading epigenetics researcher.


PROTOCOLExamines global methylation patterns for superior precision and accuracy. Creates a novel computational multi-step solution to address the “technical noise” in previous clocks.
RESULTSIndex is the most precise and reliable among published epigenetic age measures, achieving agreement across technical replicates within zero to 1.5 years.
PUBLICATION   Higgins-Chen, A.T. et al., A computational solution for bolstering reliability of epigenetic clocks: Implications for clinical trials and longitudinal tracking. Nature Aging. 2022. doi: 10.1038/s43587-022-00248-2.


Result: Index Is a More Precise and Accurate Clock

Published biological age clocks such as the Horvath multi-tissue predictor, Hannum blood clock, and DNAm PhenoAge typically look at hundreds of sites on the genome. Unlike these clocks, Elysium’s Index examines global methylation patterns for a truly robust DNA methylation-based measurement. Index has been shown to output results that dramatically increase precision and accuracy relative to other published DNA methylation measurements. Whereas other clocks produced deviations between technical replicates from three to nine years, Index shows agreement across replicates within zero to 1.5 years.  


Testing Index for Repeatability

In order to improve repeatability, we updated the academic model of biological clocks, which are built to detect signals at the population level rather than the individual level. We then conducted our own internal validation, which entailed putting Index through a battery of tests to account for circumstances that arise when data is based on saliva samples—we subjected the samples to many of the variables that can happen when people are living their lives—forgetting the saliva sample on your desk for a week, temperature changes that occur during shipping, and drinking coffee before taking a sample.


Deeper Insights with System Age Scores

The latest version of Index includes biological ages for nine body systems: brain, liver, kidney, immune system, heart, blood, metabolic, inflammation, and hormone. Each system age score is based on DNA methylation (epigenetic modifications) signatures present in your genome that reflect a number of biomarkers relevant to each system. Biomarkers were chosen for how closely they are associated with aging and their ability to indicate overall long-term health and wellness. 

Individual system ages are not indicative of the health of a specific system. Instead, they are a snapshot of each system’s potential contribution to your overall biological age–together, they provide a more complete picture of your overall long-term health and wellness. 


Introducing the Aging Research Center and TIME-A Study

The Aging Research Center is a digitally-native, collaborative, and longitudinal research effort developed by Elysium Health to better our collective understanding of aging by building the world’s most actionable epigenetic dataset, with an emphasis on translation, comprehensiveness, and diversity. Through collaboration with the Elysium community, the Aging Research Center will provide consumers with the first-ever opportunity to participate directly in longevity research and gain access to novel and impactful insights, as well as support the development of personalized therapeutics and next-generation diagnostics. Our first study, TIME-A, aims to advance our understanding of the connections between epigenetics, lifestyle, demographics, and health and aging. Learn more about the Aging Research Center here.


Now Enrolling: The TIME-A Study

All Index users who registered their kits on our website are eligible to enroll in a landmark aging and longevity study. The Translational Initiative to Map Epigenetics in Aging (TIME-A) aims to advance our understanding of the connections  between epigenetics, lifestyle, demographics, and health and aging. By participating, you can expect novel and impactful insights, as well as exclusive research updates and early access to new products and technologies. Login to your Elysium Health account to enroll.