To understand the immune system clock the researchers found, we have to start with talking about the link between inflammation and the immune response. Though inflammation may sound like a bad thing, normal (acute, not chronic) inflammation is actually a critical mechanism used by our cells during a healthy immune response. And the mechanisms that control inflammation are a key part of what the researchers measured in this study.

Furman is also the director of Stanford 1000 Immunomes Project, “the world’s largest longitudinal population-based study of immunology and aging.” It’s data from that project, in combination with some others and through the use of “deep-learning method, from which iAge, the immune system “clock,” or inflammatory clock of aging they developed, was born.

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