American scientists have claimed to have succeeded for the first time in carrying out a gene therapy which reverses the effects of natural aging in human being.
Elizabeth Parrish, CEO of Bioviva USA Inc. has become the first human being to be successfully rejuvenated by gene therapy administered to her in 2015 – one designed to protect against muscle mass depletion that is inherent to aging and another to fight stem cell depletion due to age-related diseases.
The aging treatment was originally intended to prove that her company’s gene therapy was safe – should they prove to be effective in the long-term and withstand due scientific scrutiny – and would be the very first successful demonstration of telomere lengthening in any human.
Gene therapy has been used to lengthen telomeres before in cultured cells and in mice, but never in a human patient.
How Telomere Works On Aging
As described by Bioviva-Science, telomeres are short segments of DNA which cap the ends of every chromosome, acting as ‘buffers’ against wear and tear. They shorten with every cell division, eventually getting too short to protect the chromosome, causing the cell to malfunction and the body to age.
The basis for the success of Parrish’s gene therapy is related to the telomere scores – which are calculated based on the telomere length in white blood cells (T-lymphocytes). The same test taken in March 2016 by SpectraCell also revealed that Parrish telomeres had lengthened by approximately 20 years, from 6.71kb to 7.33kb, which indicates that her white blood cells (leukocytes) have become biologically younger.
In Parrish’s reaction, she said:
“Current therapeutics offer only marginal benefits for people suffering from diseases of aging. Additionally, lifestyle modification has limited impact for treating these diseases. Advances in biotechnology is the best solution, and if these results are anywhere near accurate, we’ve made history.”
However, it’s important to note that the results have yet to be verified by an independent source (which is really what science is all about). And Bioviva is still carefully monitoring Parrish’s blood and will continue to do so in the coming months, and even years, to ensure that the success it has seen in her white blood cell can translate to the body’s other tissues and organs; or if the effects can be safely replicated in other human patients.