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A giant step for mankind that started with a mouse!

In the very beginning of our book The Immortality Edge, in my forward, I quote Neil Armstong:  “One small step for many, one giant step for mankind,” rendering my opinion on the importance of telomerase therapy and telomere science.

That opinion is passing from an opinion to fact.

This past week saw several major releases in the anti-aging field.  I will get into detail about them in a moment, but I want to remind you about something critical that is also beginning to change.  Last year, I had the great fortune of standing in front of interested people at David Wolfe’s Longevity Now Conference and teaching them about Omega3’s, telomeres, epigenetics and other, soon-to-be timely topics.

Every single one of those heretofore unknown areas has been in the news lately.  In addition, Suzanne Somers’ book Bombshell came out last week and spent 21 pages on topics we wrote an entire book on in 2010: telomeres, telomerase and TA-65. This was a huge step, because now a popular author is writing about my field — something that has never really happened before.

OK, the BIG BANG study of the year is Dr Blasco’s latest study and it is gigantic for several reasons.

First, it uses telomerase therapy and markedly extends the life spans of adult mice (24% longer lived) and old, old mice (14% longer lived) with a single (yep, that is one time) injection of telomerase therapy. Next, it uses viral transfection, to insert the telomerase gene, a method that had heretofore, increased the risk of cancer. Now, it can be done with no risk of increasing cancer. I hope these silence the critics of telomerase therapy once and for all. For years, they have been hiding behind the misconception that telomerase “causes cancer”. I suspect many of them knew it does not, all along, but it made a fast, easy and scary argument against using telomerase.

At least now we will be treated to the real reasons why people fight it: “We aren’t supposed to live forever, Doc!” OK, your choice – you don’t get any, how’s that?!

It is important to note that the mice were allowed to accumulate the damage of aging to adult and old age, before they were treated. Then, when they were already “damaged by aging” they were treated and got better!

Next critics will say: “But it did not create immortal mice.”  First off, who would want to! Next, mice do not age by telomere degradation and telomerase lack, alone. If we were to estimate “how much” mouse aging is dependent on telomeres, it would probably be around 50% or less. This suggests that when we develop said therapies for people, it may have more startling results. Sign me up!

Of course, there is little impetus to develop an anti-aging shot, among Big Pharma and the government, but I can guarantee you this. They will be first in line when it is approved!

For now, we are “stuck” with a safe effective alternative, TA-65. And yes, there will be more and more studies on this as well, but just in case you missed it, Dr Blasco was able to demonstrate significant life span lengthening (and yes, health span as well) with no increase in cancer with her mice on TA-65, as well.

For the past 2 years, since the publication of our book The Immortality Edge, I have had to listen to people criticize what we wrote, as being speculative and unproven. I challenged each critic to come back and write their concerns again, in a year or two, because they would all be answered. No one did, but one guy wrote, “Hey Doc, what do you think?! You think you know something the rest of the world doesn’t?”

In this case, I might!

But, there is so much more to learn and I do love this stuff. Stay tuned and I’ll do my best to translate it into English for you.

Doc

P.S. Of lesser note this week, a very interesting study came out looking to identify “SNPs” Single Nucleotide Substitutions or (P) polymorphisms in identical twins. This was pretty cool, because it might identify some of the reason one twin (or on a broader sense , why someone) is more “disease prone” than the other.  They definitively need to do epigenetic mapping and short telomere testing on the twins as well!

References:

Telomerase gene therapy in adult and old mice delays aging and increases longevity without increasing cancer

Bruno Bernardes de Jesus1, Elsa Vera1, Kerstin Schneeberger1, Agueda M. Tejera1, Eduard Ayuso2,3,

Fatima Bosch2,3, Maria A. Blasco1*

Keywords: AAV9; aging; gene therapy; health span; TERT

DOI 10.1002/emmm.201200245

Received February 22, 2012

Revised March 29, 2012

Accepted March 30, 2012

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Does Telomere Science Reveal a Cure for Cancer?

This post is going to be a little more scientific and detailed than I normally send, I hope that is ok, let me know what you think about this style of education and if you like it I’ll do more.

When we see people who are exceptionally fit or in incredibly good health in their later years we often blame it on having good genes.

And, that is partially true but the part that is true is the part of the genetic material we all share, it is the end of the chromosome called telomerase. Telomeres control how long and how well we live.

Let me explain.

The discovery of telomerase is a real Christmas miracle. It was on Christmas day that Greider and Blackburn finally proved their theory that an enzyme added telomeric DNA to the ends of chromosomes.  That was in 1984, and that enzyme was later named telomerase.

Telomerase is present and active in stem cells, germ cells and cancer cells which is one reason these cells never reach senescence (an endpoint where cells die or no longer divide and thus become inert).  Normal cells don’t express telomerase.  That gene is suppressed in them.  One key to immortality is turning that gene on.  Thanks to extensive scientific research, a natural activator TA-65 has been discovered and proven to successfully lengthen telomeres.

But every new discovery is initially feared, then embraced by pioneering spirits, and finally adopted by the hungry masses (or in the case of naturally occurring cures, co-opted by corporations to be patented and turned into expensive controlled medicine since they can’t patent nature).

When it comes to telomeres, many fear turning this gene on in healthy cells is unsafe and risky. Their concern stems from what incorrectly appears to be a similarity or link with cancer.

 So, what about cancer?  If telomerase is turned on in cancer cells and is the reason a cancer cell continuously replicates, would turning it on in normal cells increase the risk of these cells mutating and becoming cancerous? Specifically is there any evidence that TA-65 causes cancer?

The answer is no and I’ll tell you why.

Stimulating growth of telomeres on normal chromosomes does not cause them to become cancerous because cancer cells are by definition abnormal cells.  This bears repeating.  It DOES NOT cause normal cells to become cancer cells.

As I explained, cancer cells are abnormal cells.  When your genetic material (DNA) becomes damaged or is altered, it mutates and affects normal cell growth and division.  Activating telomerase to lengthen telomeres does not alter or damage our DNA.  Scientists have turned on the telomerase of normal cells ATTEMPTING to turn these cells into cancer cells and have been repeatedly unsuccessful. 

For the past few decades telomerase research was almost solely focused on creating a “telomerase inhibitor” that could be a potential cure for cancer.  Because 80% of all human cancers are immortalized by the turning on of telomerase it’s a logical conclusion that preventing the immortality of cancer cells would slow growth and allow chemotherapies to work more effectively.

I support this research, but when TA-65 was discovered a decade  ago and has been shown to be safe and effective as a telomerase activator in healthy cells then the research focus and possibilities expanded.  It’s with these new possibilities that I am most intrigued by and signal health and vitality for all long into our “golden years”.

We know that when cells approach senescence (their endpoint), the short telomeres stimulate the chromosome instability which can cause the mutations that are responsible for creating cancerous cells.  If we lengthen the telomeres and extend the life of the cell, we thereby reduce the risk of chromosome rearrangement (where tumor-suppressor genes can be shut off and cancer-causing genes turned on).  Telomerase has also been shown to extend the life span of our immune cells, which improves their ability to seek and destroy cancer cells. 

According to the American Cancer Society, 78% of all cancers are diagnosed in people 58 years and older.  Cancers are more likely to occur when signs of cellular senescence are present and when the immune system begins to be compromised with age and lose its ability to respond to threats.  It follows then that extending the period of time before normal cells reach senescence and before immune cells die, would help prevent the creation and spread of cancer in our bodies.

It’s important to note that the unbridled and aggressive way telomerase is activated in cancer cells is also very different from the gentle and mild activation of telomerase in stem-cell and germ-cell lines. TA-65 mimics the natural and gentle activation of telomerase in stem-cells and germ-cells. In 2002, testing and research began with TA-65 and to date there are no studies linking its use to cancer.  Rather studies showing its ability to increase the number of “good guys to fight off the bad guys”, gives hope that it will assist our bodies when fighting off cancerous mutations.

In addition adding TA-65 to human non immortal cancer cell lines, adding TA-65 to pre malignant cells ( cells on their way to becoming cancer), adding to-65 to highly cancer prone mice and of course giving TA-65 to people has shown no increases in cancer.  AS far as prevention that has not yet been thoroughly studied but many of us in the longevity field believe it holds promise for reducing the risk of cancer.

TA-65 is derived from the Astragalus root, a natural compound used and researched for its ability to measurably boost the immune system.  Before it was released as a supplement it was studied for effectiveness against various viruses and proved beneficial against HIV to CMV viruses, among others.  These viruses are associated with increased cancer rates, and because of this the question is often posed, “could a telomerase activator actually improve cancer outcomes and maybe even be a cancer preventative?”  Geron, the parent company that produces TA-65, is commencing tests and attempting to answer that question.

I believeTA-65 is currently offering cutting edge hope for those pioneering souls who want to explore the boundaries of living fully, healthfully, as long as possible.

A key to remember about living longer is that while the number of years you live is important, the number of years you live fully, with great brain and body function is the real measure of longevity. This is called health span. Most people, scientists, doctors and laymen alike agree, maximizing health span is more important than maximizing life span. Think of it this way, your life can be extended for quite some time with life support but most of us wouldn’t chose to live for months or years on life support.

With TA-65 and Telomerase activation increasing life and health span is now within the reach of almost everyone. I speak with people every day who are exploring ways of extending their health span. If you have specific questions around TA-65 and whether or not it might be effective for you, visit my website for info on contacting me, I’ll be happy to answer your questions.

And please do let me know in the comments below if you like these more technical, educational pieces, if so, I’ll get more of them out right away.

Best,

Dr. Dave