A collaboration of researchers from Sierra Sciences, TA Sciences, Geron Corporation, PhysioAge, and the Spanish National Cancer Research Center have announced the discovery of a naturally derived compound known as TA-65, which can activate the telomerase gene in humans. Activating this gene could prevent the shortening of telomeres at the ends of chromosomes, thereby slowing or even stopping the cellular aging process (though before any readers start preparing for immortality, we should point out that humans are believed to have a maximum lifespan of 125 years). In addition to slowing cellular aging, the researchers claim that TA-65 may also help treat diseases which attack the immune system.
From the press release:
In individuals infected with CMV, a virus which prematurely ages the immune system and significantly reduces life expectancy, TA-65 caused an apparent “age reversal” of approximately 5 to 20 years based on one biomarker of immune aging.
For the same reason, telomerase activation is a potential treatment for AIDS. “We tend to see HIV turning into AIDS when the cells of the immune system develop critically short telomeres,” said Andrews. “HIV can essentially cause the immune system to die of old age while the majority of the body is still young. A telomerase activator could theoretically prevent an HIV-positive individual from ever developing AIDS.”
Press release: Sierra Sciences Co-Authors Paper Announcing Successful Lengthening of Telomeres to Extend Human Lifespan…
Full text of the study at Rejuvenation Research: A Natural Product Telomerase Activator as Part of a Health Maintenance Program (PDF link)