I remain committed to an evidence-based critique of anti-aging theory.
If the anti-agers put up real results they will get respect from me.
Until then. Not so much.
I saw reports that a group at Harvard had “reversed aging.” Naturally, I was intrigued. I started, of course withe the actual scientific paper. (Don’t worry— translation provided below!)
An ageing world population has fuelled interest in regenerative remedies that may stem declining organ function and maintain fitness. Unanswered is whether elimination of intrinsic instigators driving age-associated degeneration can reverse, as opposed to simply arrest, various afflictions of the aged. Such instigators include progressively damaged genomes. Telomerase-deficient mice have served as a model system to study the adverse cellular and organismal consequences of wide-spread endogenous DNA damage signalling activation in vivo1. Telomere loss and uncapping provokes progressive tissue atrophy, stem cell depletion, organ system failure and impaired tissue injury responses1… Accumulating evidence implicating telomere damage as a driver of age-associated organ decline and disease risk1, 3 and the marked reversal of systemic degenerative phenotypes in adult mice observed here support the development of regenerative strategies designed to restore telomere integrity.
Translation: “We wanted to know more about aging at the DNA level. Maybe if we can prevent age-related damage to chromosomes, we can prevent aging. We find that there might be some truth to this but, at this point, we can just speculate about the possibilities.
Moving on to science journalism.
Harvard scientists reverse the ageing process in mice – now for humans
Scientists claim to be a step closer to reversing the ageing process after rejuvenating worn out organs in elderly mice. The experimental treatment developed by researchers at Harvard Medical School turned weak and feeble old mice into healthy animals by regenerating their aged bodies.
The surprise recovery of the animals has raised hopes among scientists that it may be possible to achieve a similar feat in humans – or at least to slow down the ageing process.
Translation: We bred mice that lacked a restorative enzyme. They aged rapidly. We then replaced the enzyme and the “aging” was reversed. Here is the kicker.
Repeating the trick in humans will be more difficult. Mice make telomerase throughout their lives, but the enzyme is switched off in adult humans, an evolutionary compromise that stops cells growing out of control and turning into cancer. Raising levels of telomerase in people might slow the ageing process, but it makes the risk of cancer soar.
DePinho said the treatment might be safe in humans if it were given periodically and only to younger people who do not have tiny clumps of cancer cells already living, unnoticed, in their bodies.
Anti-aging always seems to run into this problem. Sure they can make you young again, if you are willing to accept a substantially elevated risk of developing an invasive cancer. You can also be made seven feet tall (induced acromegaly) if you are willing to accept a substantially reduced lifespan.
As for me, trying to find a life worth living with the body I have seems enough of a challenge to keep me busy and engaged.