Monday, January 28, 2013

Is There A Cure For Aging? Research Into Telomeres May Help Unlock The Secret

By Jacob Rosenstein, M.D.

Imagine what would be possible if medicine found a way to reverse the symptoms of aging – to literally stop the clock.  Instead of an average lifespan of 75 or 80, what would it be like to expect to live to 150 or 200 or longer? 

Baby boomers have definitely changed the dynamics of what to expect as we approach mid-life  -- we joke that 60 is the new 45.  But what if we were able to push the envelope to such a degree that you would continue to feel fit, healthy and mentally sharp well into your 80s or 90s and beyond?

Scientists have theorized that 125 years old may be the maximum possible lifespan for human beings.  Yet who knows?  New compelling research into aging may show us that we really have no idea what is possible for the future as far as lifespan, health, longevity and even disease. 

The Body’s Internal Fountain of Youth

Dr. Bill Andrews, a molecular biologist, CEO of Sierra Sciences and co-author of “Curing Aging” believes the secret to changing our concepts about aging may lie in tiny, invisible-to-the eye biochemical enzymes called telomeres.  

What are telomeres?  They are repeating sequences of DNA located on the end of our chromosomes, acting like caps on the end of a long chain of beads.   Telomeres protect the chromosome tips from unraveling and degrading when the cells divide.

But here is the important thing to know about telomeres:  Each time our cells divide and replicate, the telomeres on the end of the chromosomes lose a little bit of their length.  They get shorter.  Over a lifetime, the telomeres shorten to such a degree that the cells can no longer duplicate themselves.  And at that point, the cells die, a process called senescence.

According to Andrews, a researcher in Philadelphia named Leonard Hayflick discovered that there was a limit to the number of times a cell can duplicate and pass on its DNA.  He suggested that there was a “clock ticking inside every dividing cell in our body – a telomere clock.”

Lifestyle & Anti-Aging Regimens Make a Difference

Scientists now believe that the shorter the telomeres, the shorter the life of the cell. There is a built-in end point or lifespan when the clock will stop ticking. 

But we also know that there is a strong correlation between lifestyle habits and telomere length.  Smoking, obesity, lack of exercise, poor diet, inactivity, stress, hormone loss and other lifestyle habits and environmental toxins can greatly accelerate the rate at which telomeres shorten in the body.

What can you do?  The good news is that it’s possible to take steps now to support healthy changes in your cells – steps that may keep cell division strong for a longer period of time. The fewer cells with short telomeres, the healthier you are and theoretically the longer your lifespan. 

At Southwest Age Intervention Institute we can now give you a fairly accurate prediction of your overall health status through a highly specialized blood test that examines the cells for telomere length. 

How is this helpful?

It provides an important baseline to determine your biological age versus your chronological age and can help guide a treatment plan for improvement. 

Based on my own personal test with Life Length, my biologic age is 39 years old versus a chronologic age of 58.  What do I credit this significant difference to?  A decade or more of regimens available through the programs we offer at Southwest Age Intervention Institute.

Looking Ahead

The future is very exciting for those of us who are passionate about new scientific discoveries into aging.  I believe we are close to finding answers about how we can prolong our lifespans and stay healthy beyond what we would ever consider imaginable.

Companies like Sierra Sciences and TA Sciences are working now on research regarding telomeres, as well as an enzyme called telomerase.  Telomerase is present, but repressed in all of the cells in our body, that is except for our reproductive and stem cells.  We are staying on top of all of this research to bring to our patients. Thus, we are very excited about the recent information coming out about Telomerase.

In the specialized reproductive and stem cells, telomerase is actively expressed where it works to repair and re-lengthen the telomeres every time the cell divides.  In these cells, the telomeres don’t shorten.

Perhaps there is a way for scientists to work with telomerase to actively repair all of the cells in our body – thus postponing aging indefinitely.  In the not-so-distant future, I think we’ll find the answers. 

If you would like to learn more about telomeres and how testing can fit into your overall lifestyle and anti-aging treatment plan, call my office to schedule a consultation at 1-800-Age-Expert (243-3973).

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