Many inventions of science fiction writers have already become a reality: the telephone, a submarine, a rocket, etc. It seems that another idea from science fiction novels has been realized, that is, a genetically modified person.
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It is still unknown how exactly aging occurs, but scientists were able to find out that this process is associated with the size of the telomeres in the chromosomes: the longer they are, the longer the person will live.
Telomeres are sections of chromosomes responsible for the number of cell divisions before they collapse.
Elizabeth Parrish, Head of Biotechnology Company BioViva (USA), states that her team of specialists has developed a new method due to which it is possible and safe to increase the length of the telomeres.
In 2016, Elizabeth Parrish announced that she had successfully completed a course of anti-aging gene therapy. Procedures included the elimination of two main factors of aging: telomere shortening and muscle mass reduction.
The length of telomeres in different people is different: as a rule, at the time of birth, the length of telomeres is from 15,000 to 20,000 pairs of nucleotides, and at the time of death, there are only 5,000 – 7,000 pairs. Their length is constantly being reduced due to a process called the Hayflick Limit, which is the number of cell divisions that is about 50 cycles. After this, aging begins.
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During the study, scientists found that DNA can be restored using telomerase, an enzyme that interacts with telomeres to restore their initial size. The telomere update process is started using modified RNA. After administration, it increases telomerase activity within 1-2 days. During this period, RNA actively increases telomeres and then decomposes. As a result, cells begin to behave as if they are “young” and divide more intensively.
It became possible to lengthen telomeres by more than 1000 nucleotides, this corresponds to several years of human life. The process itself does not harm health and does not cause mutations since the immune system simply does not have time to respond to RNA introduced into the body.
Laboratory specialists from SpectraCell have confirmed that such therapy can be successful. In 2015, before the start of the therapy, the length of the telomeres in Elizabeth’s blood leukocytes was 6,710 nucleotide pairs.
In 2016, after completion of all procedures, the telomeres of leukocytes increased to 7330 pairs. This means that the white blood cells in her blood are several years younger. Due to the fact that such experiments in the United States are prohibited by law, Parrish had to do this in Colombia. The experiment was confirmed by two separate organizations – the Heales Medical and Biogerontology Research Foundation.
Elizabeth said that the therapy with telomere lengthening offers the patient only one alternative – lifestyle changes: excluding meat from the diet, exercising, and avoiding stressful situations. Achievements in the field of biotechnology are the best solution, and if the results of the experiment in which she participated are accurate, it means that humans have taken a huge step forward in science.
Elizabeth Parrish probably became a pioneer in the field of gene anti-aging therapy – the first important step on the path to “immortality.”