Scientists have succeeded in partially reversing the aging of human cells
Researchers from Tel Aviv University and Shamir Medical Center have stopped and reversed some key aspects of human cell aging. In their research, they used what is called the hyperbaric Oxygen therapy.
Every time a cell replicates in our body, we lose a piece of our youth. All by shortening the telomeres, the structures that protect our chromosomes from damage when copied. Understanding this process is considered the "holy grail" of aging biology. Researchers from Israel claim that in a small study of 26 patients they succeeded in reversing the shortening process and thereby increasing the length of the telomeres. A description of the study was published in the journal "Aging" released.
Image source: Tel Aviv University (TAU)
How can the aging process be reversed?
The study participants were in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber for 90 minutes five times a week. The sessions lasted three months, after which time some of the telomeres were elongated by up to 20 percent. This is an impressive discovery that many scientists have worked on in the past. It should be noted right away, however, that the test was small and the tests have to be repeated before we are too excited about the results.
The fact that the hyperbaric oxygen therapy The scientists are convinced that can influence the length of the telomeres is worth further research. The study's lead author, Shair Efrati, a doctor from the Sagol School of Neuroscience Medical Faculty at Tel Aviv University, explains that the inspiration for the experiment was somewhat "cosmic".
- The NASA conducted an experiment in which the twins participated. One flew into space, the other stayed on earth. Later research showed a significant difference in the length of the telomeres in the twins. It was then that we recognized that changes in the external environment can have an influence on age-related changes in the cells, "says Efrati.
The telomeres are fragments of the chromosome and are located at the end of the chromosome. They copy as cells divide, and that makes them shorter and shorter each time, which is related to the aging process and can lead to numerous diseases, including cancer. - Longer telomeres correlate with better cell performance - explains Efrati.
There are many reasons why the erosion of our telomeres can accelerate. These include lack of sleep, inadequate diet, or even having children. Regular exercise, a good diet, or vitamin D, in turn, can cause our telomeres to erode more slowly.
The real achievement would be to completely reverse these processes and give back the lost parts of the telomeres. The new research is surprising in that it shows a 20 percent increase in telomeres. Telomeres have never increased so much before.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
It seems that the key to research is hyperbaric oxygen therapy - the absorption of pure oxygen administered over an extended period of time in the hyperbaric chamber. In the past, a similar therapy has been very controversial due to unfounded claims that it could treat a range of conditions.
In more recent studies, researchers have shown that the changes induced by oxygen therapy helped improve the overall immune system in a small group of subjects. In fact, activation of T lymphocytes, the body's best weapon in the fight against disease, has been observed in a few people.
However, would we be able to spend a large part of the year in a small reservoir for oxygen therapy? It's a matter of preference, but if the results of the research are confirmed, it may accelerate work on new technologies that will make therapy more tolerable. Efrati argues that understanding the mechanisms that shorten telomeres is considered the "holy grail" of aging biology.