THE human ageing process has been reversed in a ground-breaking study, scientists have claimed.
Researchers at Tel Aviv University and the Shamir Medical Center used a form of oxygen therapy to reverse two key indicators of ageing – telomere length and senescent cells accumulation.
As people grow older telomeres – the protective caps found at the end of chromosomes – shorten, and there is a rise in old, malfunctioning senescent cells.
The scientists conducted a clinical trial on 35 adults over the age of 64 to see if a method called Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy could prevent the deterioration in these two indicators of the ageing process.
The volunteers were put in a pressurised chamber and given pure oxygen for 90 minutes every day, five days a week for three months.
After the trial scientists found the telomeres in the participants had increased in length my an average of 20 per cent, while their senescent cells had been reduced by up to 37 per cent.
Animal studies have shown that removing senescent cells extends remaining life by more than one third.
The researchers said this was the equivalent of how their bodies were at a cellular level 25 years ago.
Shai Efrati, a professor at the Faculty of Medicine and Sagol School of Neuroscience at Tel Aviv University, and co-author of the study, said: “Since telomere shortening is considered the ‘Holy Grail’ of the biology of aging, many pharmacological and environmental interventions are being extensively explored in the hopes of enabling telomere elongation.
“The significant improvement of telomere length shown during and after these unique HBOT protocols provides the scientific community with a new foundation of understanding that ageing can, indeed, be targeted and reversed at the basic cellular-biological level.”
Many scientists believe ageing itself is responsible for serious conditions such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, arthritis, cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
The findings are the latest in a number of possible anti-ageing treatments which try to increase life expectancy, making people look and feel younger.
The head of a biotech company became ‘patient zero’ in 2015 after undergoing a gene therapy she claimed could make permanent changes to her DNA and combat muscle loss as well as other age-related conditions.
BioViva chief executive Liz Parrish came under fire from scientists for her experimental drug trial but said she had increased the length of her telomeres in the five years since having the therapy.
In the trial in Israel the volunteers did not undergo any lifestyle, diet or medical changes, which have been found to have a moderate effect on a person’s biological age.
It is thought the effects were due to a pressurised chamber which induced a state of hypoxia, or oxygen shortage, which triggered the cell regeneration.
“Until now, interventions such as lifestyle modifications and intense exercise were shown to have some inhibition effect on the expected telomere length shortening,” said Dr Amir Hadanny, co-author of the study.
“However, what is remarkable to note in our study, is that in just three months of therapy, we were able to achieve such significant telomere elongation – at rates far beyond any of the current available interventions or lifestyle modifications.”
The research was published in the journal Ageing.
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