Thursday, September 9, 2010

Telomerase-activating compound may help reverse aging

Researchers have discovered a telomerase-activating compound which could eventually be used to reverse aging in humans.

Specifically, a naturally derived compound known as TA-65 has been shown to activate the telomerase gene in humans. The researchers, a collaboration of scientists from Sierra Sciences, TA Sciences, Geron Corporation, PhysioAge, and the Spanish National Cancer Research Center, discovered that activating this gene could prevent the shortening of telomeres at the ends of chromosomes, thereby slowing or even stopping the cellular aging process.

While 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."

As excited as I am by this discovery, I believe Andrews's statement is considerably overstated. We are still quite a ways off from having interventions that will "keep us young and healthy forever," and it will unlikely be accomplished through the exclusive use of telomerase-activating therapies. Aging is a multi-faceted process that will inevitably require a cocktail of therapies. Moreover, as healthy life span is continually extended, new and unanticipated age-related diseases will crop up.

It's worth noting that, in addition to slowing the cellular aging process, the researchers hope that TA-65 may also help treat diseases which attack the immune system such as HIV/AIDS.

Press release.

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