Life Extension Magazine®

Issue: Apr 2011

What We Are Doing To Reverse Your Biological Age

Most experts will tell you it’s impossible to restore youthful health in elderly individuals with advanced degenerative diseases. Yet a team of Harvard-affiliated scientists has shown it’s possible to do this in an age-accelerated animal model. Here we describe several new projects the Life Extension Foundation® has launched to accelerate agereversal research.

By William Faloon.

William Faloon
William Faloon

Just imagine making it to age 80, but you have not taken care of yourself. You thus suffer from severe degenerative disorders and have only a short time left to live.

Instead of letting you die, a pioneering doctor implants a compound that lengthens the telomeres in your cells. Within 30 days, there is a systemic reversal of your age-related pathologies. Not only are you functioning like a much younger person, but you’re inquiring about birth control as your sexuality and fertility has also been restored.

With your telomeres lengthened, you now can expect to live longer in better health, with the wisdom to avoid the bad habits that caused you to degenerate in the past.

Most experts would argue that this is not possible. Yet a breakthrough discovery published in the November 28, 2010, online edition of the scientific journal Nature provides evidence that age reversal may become a reality.1

This study was conducted using telomerase-deficient mice with artificially shortened life spans. The purpose was to see if the consequences of accelerated aging could be reversed in animals suffering from advanced degenerative pathologies.

The Breakthrough Findings

Telomeres are small units of DNA at the ends of our chromosomes. They are often compared to the plastic tips at the ends of shoelaces. As long as these tips (telomeres) remain intact, they keep the chromosomes from fraying and the genes inside from unraveling.

As our cells divide normally, or in response to poor lifestyle choices, telomeres progressively shorten until cells become dysfunctional or die.2 When this happens, we grow older, become afflicted with the diseases of aging, and eventually die.

This same degenerative effect occurs in our stem cells with aging, which makes them progressively unable to create healthy new cells.3

The Breakthrough Findings

There is evidence that fish oil,4 vitamin D,5 carnosine,6-8 multivitamins,9 and healthy lifestyle choices10 may slow the rate of telomere shortening. This helps explain why people who take care of themselves and use the proper supplements enjoy such profound health benefits.2,11,12

What had not been proven, until now, is what happens if telomere length is substantially restored in already severely degenerated aged organisms.1

In the Nature study, prematurely aged mice developed degenerative problems such as shrinkage of organs, inability to produce sperm, and failure of their brains to produce new neurons or to maintain the structural integrity of the myelin sheath that protects existing neurons.1

As these degenerated mice neared death, researchers induced the re-activation of the enzyme telomerase. In response to telomerase re-activation, the telomeres at the end of their chromosomes lengthened.1

After only 30 days, there was a reversal of the degenerative changes in every system the researchers tested. The brains of the treated mice not only started growing new neurons, but began to thicken the protective myelin sheath surrounding existing neurons. As one of the researchers was quoted, they were able to “reverse neurodegeneration.” 1

The treated mice produced new viable sperm, their spleen atrophy and intestinal damage were reversed, and even their sense of smell was restored (indicating restored olfactory function in their brains).1

These mice initially were on the verge of dying, but went on to live a typical life span that was longer and healthier than could ever have been imagined considering the degenerative condition they were in at the beginning of the study. In humans, this would be like restoring the health and vigor of a sickly 80-year-old to that of a young adult!

Circumventing the Harsh Realities of Aging

In the Nature study, DNA was damaged and could no longer emit signals to maintain cellular function or structure. Repair mechanisms collapsed, stem cells were compromised, and marked tissue atrophy occurred (such as brain shrinkage) along with functional impairment of organ systems.1

Circumventing the Harsh Realities of Aging

The significance of the Nature study is that it tested the effects of telomere lengthening in an animal model analogous in many ways to disabled elderly humans. (There were also differences in this mouse model compared to aged humans.)

It is known from human cell culture studies that restoring telomere length results in unlimited cell division potential.13-15 What has not yet been demonstrated is the effect of telomere lengthening in normally aged animals with severe tissue degeneration.

In this landmark study by Harvard-affiliated researchers, aging-accelerated mice whose telomeres were lengthened demonstrated rapid reversal of degenerative pathologies. While this is not the same as normally aged animals, it is an unprecedented demonstration of systemic age-reversal in a whole animal (in vivo) model. In this study, the aged mice with lengthened telomeres displayed new brain cell growth, restored sexual function and fertility, regeneration in every tissue examined, and a dramatically longer life span.1

The authors of the Nature study summarized their results by stating:

“In conclusion, this unprecedented reversal of age-related decline in the central nervous system and other organs vital to adult mammalian health justify exploration of telomere rejuvenation strategies for age-associated diseases, particularly those driven by accumulating genotoxic stress.” 1

There are scientific advances that forever alter the course of human history. This may be one of these advances. As you will read next, Life Extension® is not going to stand still and rely on others to carry forth this critically important rejuvenation research.

Age Reversal Can No Longer Be Ridiculed

Age Reversal Can No Longer Be Ridiculed

Since the inception of the Life Extension Foundation four decades ago, we have endured harsh criticism from mainstream media and persecution by government agencies over our unwavering prediction that it will someday be possible to make older people young again.

Just last year, research we funded succeeded for the first time in reversing the aging of human cells in the laboratory—including restoring telomere length in some instances. The scientists transported aged human cells back in time to their original embryonic state, enabling them to differentiate into any cell the body might need to self-regenerate. This age-reversal study we funded was published in the peer-reviewed journal Regenerative Medicine.16

The latest study published in Nature demonstrates that it is possible to take mammals in a severely degenerated condition and systemically reverse aging pathologies using only one mechanism, i.e. telomere lengthening.

Life Extension Provides $2 Million for New Age-Reversal Project

Based on our analysis of the current state of the art, we believe there are more effective methods to restore telomere length and reverse aging processes.

In December 2010, the Life Extension Foundation provided $2 million in funding to a company called ReCyte Therapeutics (a subsidiary of BioTime, Inc.) for a new series of studies.17 The first will be on a group of mice that will utilize several cell rejuvenation mechanisms (including telomere lengthening) in a real-world model of aging.

The initial goal of this research is to rejuvenate the vascular systems of these mice in a way that protects them against heart attack and stroke. The research will also be aimed at restoring youthful bone marrow function to reverse immune senescence, thus conferring protection against cancer, infectious disease, and autoimmune disorders.18-24

If these age-reversing effects can be documented in this mouse model and other biological systems, our research funding will then be used to attempt to develop authentic rejuvenation therapies in humans.

Seeking to Vastly Accelerate Aging Research

Seeking to Vastly Accelerate Aging Research

We live in a fascinating era. Throughout history there were no validated methods to slow human aging, let alone reverse it. Today, scientists are meticulously investigating methods to enable our aging bodies to grow younger. If they succeed, then we might be the last generation to succumb to aging and the horrific diseases that accompany it.

Long before the Nature study was published on November 28, 2010, I brought up a concept while meeting with scientists at a medical conference in December 2008.25

Everyone acknowledged that potential advances might enable us to reverse the aging process we are all suffering. The problem is that no coordinated plan existed amongst the various scientific disciplines to collectively harness this technology into a near-term reality.

I proposed that we emulate what the United States did during World War II to rapidly develop the atomic bomb. I reasoned that if we instill a sense of confidence and urgency, we can collectively implement a “Manhattan Project” aimed at finding ways to reverse the festering aging process.

Several volunteers followed up on my suggestion and put together a “Longevity Summit” that consisted of some of the world’s top anti-aging researchers.

This longevity summit titled The Manhattan Beach Project was held November 13–15, 2009, in Manhattan Beach, CA.26 The expenses were high because we had to fly gerontology experts in from around the world and cover hotel fees and video recording. The Life Extension Foundation funded the entire cost, which amounted to around $60,000.

The first two days of this summit featured presentations by researchers who revealed their scientific roadmap for initiating and achieving age reversal. Some of these scientists had been quietly developing their technologies for many years.

The last day was a roundtable discussion among the wealthy attendees, the scientists, and some very creative minds. The purpose of this brainstorm session was to develop plans to fund these anti-aging research initiatives that our lives so heavily depend on.

The following consensus was reached:

  1. In order to provide sufficient near-term funding to the most promising anti-aging research projects, about $100 million will need to be raised beyond what is already being spent by the Life Extension Foundation and wealthy individuals who are currently giving money to gerontology scientists.
  2. There are enough interested individuals today who are cumulatively able to provide this level of funding with moderate personal investments.
  3. A company should be formed to not only raise and allocate these funds, but to also raise public awareness that a credible effort is being made to gain control over human aging.

A New “Age-Reversal” Initiative

The first step in implementing the Manhattan Beach Project was to assemble a knowledgeable and experienced Board of Directors to assure that the new company would be competently managed.

A New “Age-Reversal” Initiative

The next challenge was lining up the initial seed financing to get this company off the ground. Initially, $2 million was raised, of which the Life Extension Foundation provided $500,000.

The primary motivation for people to be involved with this company is that the research it supports could lead to breakthroughs in the control of human aging that could enable them to live much longer.

What I hope will be different with this company than any other are the expectations of these people. While there is a chance that the development of patented anti-aging therapies could yield considerable profits, that was not the main reason we thought individuals might participate.

From the perspective of most Life Extension members, the development of validated methods that would enable humans to grow biologically younger is far more valuable than all the money in the world.

The company is set up to assist, both financially and technologically, companies that are engaged in research that may lead to the control of human aging.

Not all of these age-reversal initiatives will pan out. But if just one led to the development of a validated method to reverse the course of aging, then every participant (and mankind itself) would benefit.

Age Reversal Was Not Thought Possible

When Life Extension was founded, most people did not believe that reversing human aging could ever happen.

We proved them wrong last year by showing that at least at the cellular level, it is possible to re-program genes to prompt human cells to go back in time. This discovery was announced in the June 2010 issue of Life Extension Magazine.27

A New “Age-Reversal” Initiative

If one looks at the rapid technology advances we enjoy today, the probability of conquering aging can be easily analogized. Just think of the progress that has been made in other fields:

  • From counting on fingers to supercomputers.
  • Riding on horse and buggies to flying on jet planes.
  • Waiting for the pony express to instant email.
  • Stage plays to satellite TV.

One reason we are confident that age reversal is possible in our lifetime is the law of accelerating returns, which means that as scientists reach higher technological milestones, the accumulated knowledge base can be used to rapidly move up the scientific ladder.

At the Manhattan Beach Project summit in November 2009, a number of scenarios for slowing or reversing aging were presented by eminent scientific authorities. The consensus amongst the participants was that it may be possible to cure aging in our lifetime. This prediction was made before the landmark aging-reversal study was published in Nature just one year later (in November 2010).

A New “Age-Reversal” Initiative

We reasoned that if we could move up the next big anti-aging breakthrough by even a few years, this will mean the difference between life and death to many of those reading this article. That is why we view this matter with such a sense of urgency.

Where We Stand Today

The challenge we face is turning around public opinion to make aging research the number one priority. We need to overcome the denial about personal extinction that plagues the vast majority of the population. Once this is accomplished, I am certain the collective efforts of the scientific community will deal with aging as efficiently as hand-held computers function today.

Life Extension is currently evaluating several programs aimed at substantially increasing funding to scientists involved in age-reversal research. Your support through membership renewals and product purchases enables us to finance ongoing scientific projects while laying the groundwork for exponential expansion of this research in the not-too-distant future.

For longer life,

For Longer Life

William Faloon

Stair-Climbing Towards Biological Immortality

With each biological discovery, the human species climbs one step further toward gaining complete control over its own life processes.

While recorded human history goes back about 10,000 years, the vast majority of scientific breakthroughs have only occurred over the past 100 years. For instance, it was not until 1953 that James Watson and Francis Crick identified the structure of DNA (for which they later won a Nobel Prize).

Prior to 1953, it would have been difficult to conceive that doctors might one day control human cellular processes as easily as computer operating systems are now engineered. Of course, back then, no one thought that computers would have ever advanced as far as they have already.

While it took 10,000 years for humans to figure out the structure of DNA (in 1953), it only required a little over 50 years to map out the entire human genome! Genes are the cell’s “operating system,” enabling young healthy cells to function flawlessly. Gene expression is unfavorably altered as we age, which is what ultimately causes us to degenerate and eventually die.

Research funded by Life Extension and others has identified specific genes that are adversely expressed as cells grow old. Once scientists perfect methods to control gene expression, we believe it will be possible to “engineer” DNA so that our cells will be biologically immortal and completely resistant to cancer. The reason we take supplements like vitamin D28-31 and resveratrol32-34 is the favorable effect on gene expression these nutrients induce.

So from 1953, we have gone from uncovering the basic structure of DNA to developing sophisticated DNA gene expression assays. We are now at a stage of exerting partial control over some of the genes that cause us to age.

Based on this rapid progress, more “stairs have been climbed” in the scientific discipline of cellular engineering over the past 58 years than what mankind accomplished in the prior 10,000 years. It is this velocity of advancement that is enabling renowned scientists to predict that biological immortality is not only a possibility, but one that could occur in the lifetimes of some of those reading this article now!

References

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