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Some people carry a specific gene variant which makes them look a little bit older than those that do not carry this gene variant according to a study funded by Unilever and published in the journal Current Biology. It was the first study to find out that a gene can actually explain why some people look older or younger than others. Although lifestyle plays an important role in how people look, the study was conducted to examine the role of genetics in aging. Thus, the results could help promote anti-aging products in the near future.
Approximately 2,700 older Dutch adults were studied for the research. The first part of the research was to assess the age of the participants as people perceived them and compare it to their true age. The second part was to analyse their DNA and find any differences or mutations that are common in those who looked younger than they really are. It was then revealed that MC1R gene appeared to be related to how a person looks. The gene comes in many different forms or variants which could cause red hair but the study suggests that some of its variants led people looking younger than those with other forms of MC1R.
The MC1R gene plays a role in the synthesis of melanin in the skin. However, the study did not found any relation of skin color to how old people look. Hence, the gene may have a different effect in our appearance. One possibility brought upon by the research study is that the gene may affect inflammation in the body and repair damaged DNA which could then affect how a person looks.
The study is indeed interesting and could answer questions on how genetics can influence aging process but still, there is a need to find more gene variations in order to predict someone’s appearance from DNA alone according to the authors. If this continues, scientists would be able to know how people’s faces change through time at the molecular level and could ultimately develop ways to slow down the most visible effects of aging.