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We're One Step Closer to a Blood Test that Predicts When a Person Will Die

Researchers are close to blood tests which can estimate mortality risks

In life, there are two inevitable things. Death and taxes. For the first one, scientists have been trying to come up with a test which can help in estimating their mortality. It would check their current health status and then calculate how they might be vulnerable to mortality risk factors. For this purpose, blood tests are most preferred as blood samples can be easily obtained and there are enough labs for handling them. 

This effort is described in a paper which appears in the journal Nature Communications. The team is led by Joris Deelen, a postdoc researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Biology of Aging and P. Eline Slagboom, molecular epidemiology head, Leiden University Medical Center. Scientists reported that from 44000 healthy patients, an accuracy of 80% in determining mortality risk was achieved through the blood tests. 

Age of the patients varied from 18 to 109 years. They provided their blood samples and their health conditions were tracked till 16 years. A group of 226 metabolites (which are cell and tissue discharges into the blood) were analysed. From this, 14 were chosen which combined with the gender of the person could provide their health risks and possibilities of death in five to ten years. This was done by comparing those who died in the course of study to the ones who did not and separating the elements in the blood which differed significantly. There is a strong correlation between the 14 factors and mortality even after considering factors such as age, sex and death cause. 

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Slagboom said that they wanted to account for the vulnerability of the human body which cannot be observed by doctors. Researchers are amazed by the fact that a blood sample at any point of a person’s life can predict the possibilities of any risks in the next five to ten years.

This is not yet ready for application with patients but it provides a solid foundation for future research. A more refined version of the test would be most useful for older patients in helping with their treatment as the 14 metabolites represent processes such as fat and glucose breakdown, body fluid balance which can affect ailments as well as the ability of a person to recover from an injury.

Real-life examples are being studied where researchers are working on chances of recovery of a person undergoing hip surgery and possibilities of side effects such as dementia or delirium after treatment of kidney failure. Scientists are working on large databanks to confirm their results as this only lies the base of the future works. 

Journal Reference: Nature Communications

About the author: Sai Teja Moderator
Sai Teja is a second-year computer science undergraduate at the University of Hyderabad. With expertise in many modern technologies like Machine Learning, he is also a blogger and has interests in digital marketing and SEO also. He has a dream to build a single internet destination for science and technology enthusiasts

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