Do I want to know how I will look in 50 years? A recent viral smartphone app can show me. Though extremely popular, how accurate is it? The test images do look convincing. Yet, when it is used to “age” young pictures of old celebrities, the results are a bit off. Some actors look way older or younger to the app’s edited photo. What is the app missing?
Answers may roll off the tongue quicker than a cat responding to the sound of a can opener. “Oh, they had great/terrible plastic surgery.” “They have good genes.” “Wow! That’s what they get for partying, etc. too much.” “They had the money to take care of themselves.”
A few of these answers are not too far off from the correct one: You will not look exactly like the app’s generated “old” photo because it cannot capture your exposure to your surroundings/environment and the choices you make as you age. These factors are ultimately the single greatest determinants as to how “well” we age.
However, your proteins can reveal how these interactions and choices impact you on the molecular level. Preliminary research has already shown how proteins can reveal our true age. Hey, I might actually be biologically 10 years younger than what it says on some document! Then again, I could also be 50 years older (Cringe!). Proteins can also show us that, in some cases, the aging process can be reversed (Hurray!).
How well we age and what we will ultimately look like in our later years (if we get there) is, to a degree, within in our control. I would surely like to be able to bust out a few dance moves when I am 80 in calendar years. Working with my proteins may just help me have the best chance of achieving that goal.