Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Telomerase Activation Redux

Founder of T.A. Sciences Noel Thomas Patton read my recent blog post entitled Ending Old Age through Telomerase Activation, and called me on the phone to offer his feedback. Specifically, he made a point of questioning the accuracy of my claim that "there are many cell types in the human body that never stop reproducing," and he was right to do so. The only healthy cells in the human body that do not eventually become post-mitotic are germ cells, and the only way that germ cells remain immortal is by being passed on to one's descendants through sexual reproduction. Even stem cells will eventually "run out of gas" and become post-mitotic if organismal senescence does not kick in, albeit through a telomerase independent senescence mechanism, which is why I am convinced that telomerase therapy is the first and most critical step on the path to immortality.

Patton and I talked for the better part of an hour, and more than once he qualified his assertions regarding the small molecule telomerase activator known as TA-65 [PDF] (which T.A. Sciences has licensed from the Geron Corporation) and the potential benefits of the Patton Protocol with the statement, "I am not a scientist." Truth be told, my somewhat eclectic resume would not qualify me as a scientist per se, but that doesn't stop me from saying with a great deal of scientific certainty that any regimen of nutritional supplements comes with inherent health risks, and the Patton Protocol is no exception. Even so, the risks are minimal at this time, and if I were 75 years old, I'd say that the risks were negligible; I'd even be willing to go tens of thousands of dollars into debt to pay for the Patton Protocol at that age. Moreover, if I had a child who was suffering from a premature aging disease like progeria, I would say that the potential benefits of giving that child TA-65 as a dietary supplement far outweighed any of the financial costs or potential (and as of yet unobserved) side effects. However, I am hard pressed to believe that anyone else under the age of 50 would substantially benefit from such a regimen, a fortiori if his or her father or grandfather lived past the age of 80.

Although he is "not a scientist," Patton suggested that someone in his or her 40s would benefit substantially from the Patton Protocol, and that the only contra-indication he could think of would be the potential for cancer in certain individuals. Of course, another reason not to go on the Patton Protocol at this time is the fact that a year long regimen of TA-65 currently costs $25,000.00. Even if your net worth is in excess of ten million dollars, that's a lot of money for a nutritional supplement, a fortiori if you are not suffering from any age-related medical conditions. On this note, one of the great luminaries in the field of rejuvenation research is Michael J. Fossel, M.D. whose interest in the field was sparked by his work with children suffering from progeria. Back in 1997, Dr. Fossel accurately predicted that human trials of telomerase therapy would begin in the next ten years, and that victims of progeria would have little to lose from such treatment in terms of life expectancy and everything to gain. Unfortunately, the Patton Protocol cannot be tested on such individuals without dealing with an enormous amount of government red tape. Just one more example of your tax dollars, hard at work.

Patton made a point of downplaying the notion that TA-65 might be the key to immortality. However, if TA-65 does in fact activate telomerase systemically throughout the human body, and thereby lengthens the telomeres at the end of DNA strands, then it is without a doubt a key ingredient of the philosopher's stone. Beyond that, I think it's safe to say that the next major scientific challenge of rejuvenation research will be overcoming the problems that arise from deleterious mutations of mitochondrial DNA. And beyond that, I'd say that medical science has a century or two to figure out what the next major challenge of rejuvenation research will be and how to deal with it.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Health and Longevity Redux

In my most recent blog post prior to this one, I noted that Pharmexa was testing a possible cancer vaccine, referencing an earlier blog post of mine which asserted that the lengthening of telomeres on the ends of DNA strands would soon provide a cure for old age by rejuvenating old but healthy cells. I remain intrigued by issues of health and longevity, and my blog posts will probably continue to reflect this preoccupation for quite some time. Indeed, I find it quite odd that anyone would not be interested in living longer and healthier.

Inheriting a good set of genes at the moment of conception is the key ingredient to health and longevity, followed by prenatal care; once we leave the womb, the variables of nutrition and exercise are the most important ones to control, as they can level the playing field for most people and stave off the onset of genetically programmed senescence. To this end, the medical community has been slowly moving towards the principles first espoused by Nathan Pritikin in the 1950s - i.e., a diet low in protein, even lower in fat, and rich in complex carbohydrates, along with 20 to 40 minutes of daily aerobic exercise.

To be sure, Pritikin's original prescription for health and longevity should be supplemented by resistance exercise and nutritional supplements. To wit, when it comes to nutrition, many health problems seem to be rooted in vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Even in the absence of a nutritional deficiency, all sorts of health benefits can be obtained from nutritional supplements, blurring the lines between nutrition and medicine.

  • A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that people in Japan who drank five or more cups of green tea a day cut their overall death rate by 16 percent compared to those who drank less than one cup of green tea day. Moreover, the green tea drinkers were even less likely to die from cardiovascular disease: 22 percent less with men; 31 percent with women.

  • A study published in Epidemiology and Infection theorized that Vitamin D deficiency explained the seasonal nature of influenza and that supplementation of Vitamin D could prevent such an epidemic by boosting people's immune systems.

    The list goes on and on.

    Get more health information online. Whatever health related issue you are researching from allergies to any number of high blood pressure related conditions, you can get insight on symptoms and treatments from the internet.

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  • Thursday, September 21, 2006

    Pharmexa Testing Posssible Universal Cancer Vaccine

    In a previous blog post, I asserted that the lengthening of telomeres on the ends of DNA strands would soon provide a cure for old age by rejuvenating old but healthy cells. This has already been accomplished in vitro using the enzyme telomerase, and clinical trials with humans will eventually get underway. As such, all you have to do is stay alive and stay reasonably healthy until telomerase therapy becomes a proven form of medical rejuvenation, and you will stand a 50/50 chance of living to see your 1,000th birthday without all the infirmities and superficial trappings of old age.

    Telomerase was discovered by Elizabeth Blackburn in 1984, who recently received the 2006 Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research along with her colleagues Carol W. Greider and Jack W. Szostak. This discovery was the result of research driven purely by curiosity, but a few short years later it led other researchers to investigate the role that shortened telomeres played in cellular senescence. It also led researchers to investigate the role that telomerase plays in making cancer cells immortal. On this note, Pharmexa recently started clinical trials of GV1001, which targets telomerase production in cancer cells and could prove to be a universal cancer vaccine.

    In sum, the ability to turn telomerase production on in healthy cells and off in cancerous cells will almost certainly end old age and cancer, something that companies like Pharmexa and Geron have been working on for quite some time. This has all sorts of implications for society, not the least of which is how health care will be delivered. To wit, telomerase therapy will almost certainly allow people to live longer and healthier, thereby dramatically reducing the exhorbitant costs of health care for the elderly in their last decade of life and making various forms of trauma (i.e., auto accidents, slip and falls, homicide) the leading causes of death.

    Learn more about cancer and other medical issues online. The internet is a great place to start researching anything from cancer, to pregnancy symptoms to recognizing various symptoms of aids, and identifying whether or not you should seek further medical advice.

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