Sierra Sciences Have Successfully Lengthened Telomeres Which Could Be Used to Extend Human Lifespan.
Sierra Sciences, in collaboration with TA Sciences, Geron Corporation, PhysioAge, and the Spanish National Cancer Research Center (CNIO), has announced the first compound ever discovered that activates the enzyme telomerase in the human body – a critical prerequisite for technology that could arrest or reverse the aging process in humans. This compound is a natural product derived nutraceutical known as TA-65. These findings appear as a research article entitled ‘A natural product telomerase activator as part of a health maintenance program,’ published September 7, 2010 ahead of print in the peer-reviewed journal Rejuvenation Research. The article can be found at http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/rej.2010.1085.
Researchers discovered that TA-65 was associated with a statistically significant “age-reversal” effect in the immune system, in that it led to declines in the percentage of senescent cytotoxic T cells and natural killer cells after six to twelve months of use. In addition, further analysis with automated high-throughput confocal microscopy (HT-qFISH) revealed a decline in the percentage of white blood cells with critically short telomeres after twelve to eighteen months of use.
Several peer-reviewed publications have calculated that humans have a theoretical maximum lifespan of 125 years, but our health declines long before that. Many scientists believe that this limit on lifespan and decline in health is imposed by the gradual shortening of our telomeres, structures at the ends of our chromosomes that shorten with every cell division. Telomere shortening is thought to be the “clock of aging” contained within the human body. It has been repeatedly demonstrated that a human cell that does not undergo telomere shortening will divide indefinitely and is, by all available measurements, immortal.
The publication reports that TA-65 can cause telomerase, an enzyme that lengthens telomeres, to become active in human cells. Telomerase activation by TA-65 was shown to lengthen the shortest telomeres in humans, potentially extending human lifespan and healthspan. Telomerase activation is thought to be a keystone of future regenerative medicine and a necessary condition for clinical immortality.
Although TA-65 is probably too weak to completely arrest the aging process, it is the first telomerase activator recognized as safe for human use.
“We are on the cusp of curing aging,” said William Andrews, Ph.D., co-author of this study and President and CEO of Sierra Sciences, LLC. “TA-65 is going to go down in history as the first supplement you can take that doesn’t merely extend your life a few years by improving your health, but actually affects the underlying mechanisms of aging. Better telomerase inducers will be developed in the coming years, but TA-65 is the first of a whole new family of telomerase-activating therapies that could eventually keep us young and healthy forever.”
Telomerase activation has potential medical applications beyond extending human lifespan. Epidemiological studies have shown that short telomeres in humans are a risk factor for diseases including, among others, atherosclerosis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and cancer.
The present study also reports encouraging news on the effect of TA-65 on the body’s immune system. Infectious diseases lead to telomere shortening in the immune system, as immune cells divide to fight infections. Telomerase activation should prevent this telomere shortening and allow the body’s immune system to fight a chronic infection indefinitely.
The present study on TA-65 lends support to this hypothesis. In individuals infected with CMV, a virus which prematurely ages the immune system and significantly reduces life expectancy, TA-65 caused an apparent “age reversal” of approximately 5 to 20 years based on one biomarker of immune aging.
For the same reason, telomerase activation is a potential treatment for AIDS. “We tend to see HIV turning into AIDS when the cells of the immune system develop critically short telomeres,” said Andrews. “HIV can essentially cause the immune system to die of old age while the majority of the body is still young. A telomerase activator could theoretically prevent an HIV-positive individual from ever developing AIDS.”