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In recent years, scientists have shown how our our gut bacteria can help us understand more about on our immune system and metabolism. Now, they seem to do something fascinating: predicting our age!
To discover how our gut bacteria change over time, Alex Zhavoronkov and colleagues at InSilico Medicine, a Maryland–based artificial intelligence start-up, examined more than 3600 samples of gut bacteria from 1165 healthy individuals from around the world. A third of samples were from individuals aged 20-39, another third from those aged 40-59, and the rest from individuals aged 60-90. They next developed an AI program capable of knowing how our brain neurons work. Next, information from 95 different species of bacteria from 90% of the samples along with the ages of the subjects they had come from were provided to the program.
When researchers queried the program on the age of the remaining 10% of the subjects, they learned that the program could accurately predict the age of the individuals those bacteria had come from, by a margin of error of 4 years. Now, the hope is on combining this useful tool with other predictors of age, such as telomerase length, to predict our age with more precision.