Pulse 179: Have Scientists Reversed Aging?
Scientists at Tel Aviv University and Shamir Medical Center have shown that hyperbaric oxygen treatments in healthy aging adults can stop the aging of blood cells and reverse the aging process. In the biological sense, the blood cells actually grow younger as the treatments progress.
The scientists studied the impact of hyperbaric oxygen treatments (HBOT) on 35 healthy persons aged 64 or over. They aimed to discover whether such treatments can slow down, stop, or even reverse the normal aging process at the cellular level. The study results, published in Aging, indicate that the treatments actually reversed the aging process in two of its major aspects:
- The telomeres at the ends of the chromosomes grew longer instead of shorter, at a rate of 20-38 percent for the different cell types.
- The percentage of senescent cells in the overall cell population was reduced significantly, by 11-37 percent depending on cell type.
"Senescent cells have been linked to many of the chronic conditions associated with old age, including arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes and dementia," explains The Times. "Aging also shows itself through the shortening of pieces of DNA ... known as telomeres ... Longer telomeres are thought to guard against some illnesses."
"Today telomere shortening is considered the 'Holy Grail' of the biology of aging," said research co-leader Shai Efrati. "Researchers around the world are trying to develop pharmacological and environmental interventions that enable telomere elongation. Our HBOT protocol was able to achieve this, proving that the aging process can in fact be reversed at the basic cellular-molecular level."
"Until now, interventions such as lifestyle modifications and intense exercise were shown to have some inhibiting effect on telomere shortening," added research co-leader Amir Hadanny. "But in our study, only three months of HBOT were able to elongate telomeres at rates far beyond any currently available interventions or lifestyle modifications. With this pioneering study, we have opened a door for further research on the cellular impact of HBOT and its potential for reversing the aging process."
A Popular Mechanics headline reads, "It Sure Looks Like Humans Have Found a Way to Reverse Aging."
CRISPR Gene Editing Destroys Cancer Cells
Researchers at Tel Aviv University have demonstrated that the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing system is very effective in treating metastatic cancers in laboratory mice. This could be a significant step on the way to finding a cure for cancer.
The researchers developed a novel nanoparticle-based delivery system. It is described in a paper published in Science Advances. The system specifically targets cancer cells and destroys them by CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing.
The researchers emphasize that this is the first study to prove that the CRISPR genome editing system can be used to treat cancer effectively in a living animal. There are no severe side effects like in chemotherapy. And the technology opens numerous new possibilities for treating other diseases.
Synthetic Organic Compounds Kill Cancer Cells
The scientists found ways to synthesize organic compounds called "phenazines." The compounds have cellular toxicity effects that can be directed against cancerous cells. The synthetic compounds are more than four times more selectively toxic to cancer cells than normal cells.
The scientists are persuaded that their research can assist in the creation of new anticancer drugs with minimal side effects.
Antidepressant Inhibits Growth of Cancer Cells
Researchers at KU Leuven have shown that the antidepressant sertraline helps to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. The substance acts on a metabolic addiction that allows different types of cancer to grow.
Cancer cells produce large amounts of serine and glycine, two amino acids. And this stimulates the growth of cancer cells to such an extent that they become addicted to serine and glycine.
A study is published in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. It demonstrates that sertraline inhibits the production of serine and glycine, causing decreased growth of cancer cells. The safety of using sertraline in humans has already been well described.
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