Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing in Germany have developed a new blood test that can predict whether you’ll die within the next 10 years.
The test relies on biomarkers in the blood linked to various factors that appear to affect your risk of death.
A trial of the biomarkers found they were 83 percent accurate at predicting whether someone would die in the next two to 16 years.
The scientists hope the results could lead to a blood test may one day be used to guide a patient’s treatment, such as assessing whether an elderly person is too frail for surgery.
Experts have called the study an ‘exciting step’ but stress much more research is required before a test can be used in ‘real life’.
Doctors are generally able to predict if a person will die within the next year based on factors like their blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
To develop the test, the researchers analysed 44,168 participants aged 18 to 109 – 5,512 of who died during follow-up.
An analysis of the participants’ blood revealed 14 biomarkers that were associated with an increased risk of death.
These biomarkers were linked to various factors, including immunity, circulating fat, inflammation and glucose control.
This suggests that in the future, a sample of your blood could be analysed for the presence of these biomarkers, to indicate when you’ll die.
In the study, published in Nature Communications , the researchers, led by Joris Deelen, explained: “We subsequently show that the prediction accuracy of 5- and 10-year mortality based on a model containing the identified biomarkers and sex is better than that of a model containing conventional risk factors for mortality.”
The researchers highlight that further research is needed before a clinical test is available, and this is backed up by experts not involved in the study.
Dr Amanda Heslegrave, a researcher at the UK Dementia Research Institute, said: “Whilst this study shows that this type of profiling can be useful, they do point out importantly that it would need further work to develop a score at the individual level that would be useful in real life situations.
“We’d need to see: validation to ensure repeatability in different labs, production of reference samples to test this on an ongoing basis, work to make the individual score possible, validation in other cohorts and validation of all components of the panel.
“So, it’s an exciting step, but it’s not ready yet.”