Every time a cell inside your body replicates, a slither of your youth crumbles to dust. This occurs via the shortening oftelomeres, structures that 'cap' the tips of our chromosomes.
Now, scientists in Israel say they've been able to reverse this process and extend the length of telomeres in a small study involving 26 patients.
The participants sat in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber for five 90 minutes sessions per week over three months, and as a result, some of their cell's telomeres were extended by up to 20 percent.
It's an impressive claim - and something many other researchers have attempted in the past without success. But of course it's worth flagging that this is a small sample size, and the results will need to be replicated before we can get too excited.
However, the fact that hyperbaric oxygen therapy appears to affect telomere length is a compelling link worth investigating further.
Lead researcher Shair Efrati, a physician from the Faculty of Medicine and Sagol School of Neuroscience at Tel Aviv University, explained to ScienceAlert how the inspiration behind their experiment was somewhat out of this world.
"After the twin experiment done by NASA, where one of the twins was sent out to the outer space and the other stayed on Earth, demonstrated a significant difference in their telomere length we have realised that changes in the outside environment may affect the core cellular changes that happens along ageing," said Efrati.
Telomeres are repeating chunks of code that act as the DNA equivalent of the plastic or metal aglet capping the end of a shoelace.
They copy themselves along with the rest of the chromosomes whenever a cell divides. Yet with every replication, tiny fragments of code from the very tip of the sequence fail to make it into the new copy, leaving the freshly minted chromosome a touch shorter than its predecessor.
As anybody who has lost the cap of their shoelace knows, it doesn't take long for the shoelace to lose its integrity. Similarly, shorter telomeres put sequences further down the chromosome at higher risk of hazardous mutations.
These mutations coincide with changes that predispose us to a bunch of age-related conditions, not least of all diseases such as cancer.
That's not necessarily to say that we age because our telomeres shrink, but there is a connection between telomere length and health that researchers are keen to investigate further.
"Longer telomeres correlates with better cellular performance," Efriti explained.
There are plenty of ways to accelerate the erosion of our telomeres. Failing to get adequate sleepcould do it, as might chowing down on too much processed food, and maybe even having kids.
Slowing down the loss takes a bit more effort, but engaging in regular exercise and eating well are sound bets if you want your chromosomes to remain as long as possible.
A real achievement would be to flip our chromosomal hourglass completely and return lost sections of telomere. The fact that high-turnover tissues lining our gut do this naturally using an enzyme called telomerase has fuelled research over the years.
There have been plenty of milestones in attempts to achieve this task. Gene therapy in mice has shown it could one day be feasible in humans. More recently, stem cells from a supercentenarian woman had their telomeres completely reset outside of her body.
Some studies have found potential for tiny increases of maybe a few percent with provision ofnutritional supplementssuch asvitamin D.
But while there are plenty of hyped promises of reversing aging in living humans already on the market, the reality of science-backed therapies we can use to give us the telomeres of a 20-year-old has been underwhelming.
Which is why the latest study is attracting so much attention. Far from a measly two or three percent, this latest study found telomeres in white blood cells taken from 26 subjects had regained around a fifth of their lost length.
The key, it seems, is hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) the absorbing of pure oxygen while sitting in a pressurised chamber for extensive periods; in this case, five 90 minute sessions per week over three months.
HBOT has attracted controversy in the past for claims it could treat a range of conditions.It's usually the kind of therapy you'd give a diver who came up too fast from the ocean depths, or to kill off oxygen-sensitive microbes in a wound that just won't heal any other way.
But oxygen-rich environments are also behind a weird paradox, one where the body desperately stirs up a host of genetic and molecular changes that typically occur in a low oxygen one.
In this study, the researchers were able to show that the genetic changes provoked by the HBOT has extended telomeres, and also had a potentially positive effect on the health of the tissues themselves.
A slightly smaller sample of volunteers also showed a significant decrease in the number of senescentT cells, tissues that form a vital part of our immune system's targeted response against invaders.
Whether you'd sit in a small tank every day for a quarter of a year is a matter of preference, but future research could help make the whole process a touch more efficient, at least for some.
"Once we have demonstrated the reverse ageing effect on the study cohort using predefined HBOT protocol, further studies are needed in order to optimise the specific protocol per individual," Efrati told ScienceAlert.
In a press release from The Sagol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Research, Efrati says understanding telomere shortening is "considered the 'Holy Grail' of the biology of aging".
As significant as telomere shrinking seems to be, the failure of our biology as we age is no doubt a complicated matter involving far more than lost pieces of chromosomes.
Reactivation of telomerase is also a trick used by cancers to remain ahead of the growth-curve, making this holy grail a potentially poisoned chalice we need to understand better before drinking too heavily from.
Excitingly, research like this will help us develop a better picture of the aging process.
This research was published in Aging.
- Stem cell therapy for COVID-19 and ARDS - News-Medical.Net - May 7th, 2021
- Experimental COVID-19 lung treatment being tested at Ontario hospitals - CityNews Toronto - May 7th, 2021
- EP. 4: Optimizing Patient Selection for CAR T-Cell Therapy - OncLive - May 7th, 2021
- Could stem cells improve the outcome of ARDS in severe COVID-19? - News-Medical.Net - May 7th, 2021
- Motixafortide Reaches Primary End Point of Improved Stem Cell Mobilization in Multiple Myeloma Trial - Cancer Network - May 7th, 2021
- Restricting the Growth and Spread of Head and Neck Cancers - Technology Networks - May 7th, 2021
- The global stem cell therapy market is projected to reach USD 401 million by 2026 from - GlobeNewswire - May 7th, 2021
- UCLA team discovers how to restrict growth, spread of head and neck cancers | UCLA - UCLA Newsroom - May 7th, 2021
- NUS scientists found a key element that affects how genes are expressed in blood stem cells - Newswise - May 7th, 2021
- Citius Pharmaceuticals to Present Mino-Lok and COVID-related Respiratory Treatment Update at Benzinga Global Small Cap Conference on Thursday, May 13... - May 7th, 2021
- Mesoblast says its stem cell treatment saved lives of severely ill COVID patients - Stockhead - May 2nd, 2021
- Antiviral T cells safe, effective as off-the-shelf therapy for painful complication after stem cell transplants - News-Medical.Net - May 2nd, 2021
- Antiviral T cells protected, viable as off-the-shelf treatment for painful complication stem cells - Microbioz India - May 2nd, 2021
- Desperate family of boy, 9, with leukaemia have 10 days to save his life... - The Sun - May 2nd, 2021
- Orchard Therapeutics Announces Multiple Presentations at the 24th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy - GlobeNewswire - May 2nd, 2021
- Investigating CAR T-Cell Therapy for Use in Different Disease Types - Targeted Oncology - May 2nd, 2021
- Enhanced inhibition of tumor growth using TRAIL-overexpressing adipose-derived stem cells in combination with the chemotherapeutic agent CPT-11 in... - May 2nd, 2021
- Thomas Smeenk on Hemostemix's autologous stem cell therapy technology and why some call it 'the fountain of youth' - InvestorIntel - April 28th, 2021
- Monitoring levels of vimentin-positive circulating cancer stem cells and tumor cells in patients with advanced EGFR-mutated non-small cell lung cancer... - April 28th, 2021
- Fate Therapeutics Announces Four Presentations at the 2021 ASGCT Annual Meeting - GlobeNewswire - April 28th, 2021
- Therapeutic Solutions International Reports Regression of Established Tumors by Combining its Cancer Blood Vessel Targeting Immunotherapy with Low... - April 28th, 2021
- A review of baculovirus vectors in gene therapy | BTT - Dove Medical Press - April 28th, 2021
- Stem Cell Therapy for COPD: Hope and Exploitation - DocWire News - April 26th, 2021
- Axion BioSystems Announces Formation of Scientific Advisory Board - Business Wire - April 26th, 2021
- Global Cell Therapy Market By Therapy Type, By Therapeutic Area, By End User, By Cell Type, By Regional Outlook, Industry Analysis Report and... - April 24th, 2021
- Pure Red Cell Aplasia following ABO-Mismatched Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation: Resolution with Daratumumab Treatment - DocWire... - April 24th, 2021
- Advancing the Development of Safe and Effective Regenerative Medicine Products | FDA - FDA.gov - April 24th, 2021
- New method helps map the specialized diversity and spatial location of cells within a tissue or tumor - News-Medical.Net - April 24th, 2021
- Chimeric embryo may have medical implications The Campus - The Campus - April 24th, 2021
- Survival and treatment patterns of patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma in France - a cohort study using the French National... - April 24th, 2021
- Guenther Koehne, MD, Highlights Recent Advancements in the Treatment of Blood Cancers - Oncology Learning Network - April 24th, 2021
- Rinri Therapeutics raises 10 million to advance stem cell therapy for hearing loss - The Star - April 24th, 2021
- Cancer Diagnosis in Patient Given LentiGlobin Revised to Severe Anemia - Sickle Cell Anemia News - April 24th, 2021
- Hodgkin lymphoma: Symptoms, outlook, treatment, and more - Medical News Today - April 24th, 2021
- Tissue Repair, Mitochondrial Function and Wound Healing Explored in 2021 APS Presidents Symposium - Newswise - April 24th, 2021
- Axion BioSystems Announces Formation of Scientific Advisory Board - BioSpace - April 20th, 2021
- Avalon GloboCare is seeking to tap the power of cells to fight cancer and coronavirus - Proactive Investors USA - April 20th, 2021
- Rinri Therapeutics Raises 10 million from Existing Investors and UK Future Fund to Advance its Novel Stem Cell Therapy to Restore Hearing Loss -... - April 20th, 2021
- Global Regenerative Medicines Market 2020-2030: Opportunities in Drug Approvals and Strong Pipeline of Cell and Gene Therapies & Multiple... - April 20th, 2021
- FDA Grants Orphan Drug Status to Novel IRAK4 Inhibitor in AML and MDS - Targeted Oncology - April 20th, 2021
- Vertex Drops $900 Million to Expand Partnership with CRISPR Therapeutics - BioSpace - April 20th, 2021
- Kaleido Biosciences Announces Collaboration with Robert Jenq, MD, to Explore Potential of its Microbiome Metabolic Therapies (MMT) in Preventing... - April 20th, 2021
- Partner Content | Being bionic: the future of regenerative medicine - TheSpec.com - April 14th, 2021
- Ohio State Recruits Top Oncologist to Expand Cell Therapy Program, Lead Bone Marrow Transplant Services - Wexner Medical Center - The Ohio State... - April 14th, 2021
- Leukemia Cutis: Symptoms and Treatment - Healthline - April 14th, 2021
- Green: Variants and outbreaks continue to put stress on hospitals - Vermont Biz - April 14th, 2021
- CRISPR Therapies Pipeline Insights 2021: Analysis of Key Companies, Emerging Therapies, Recent Happenings and Futuristic Trends - GlobeNewswire - April 14th, 2021
- Consortium to investigate role of neurofilament light chain in neurodegenerative diseases Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis -... - April 14th, 2021
- Man's heart healed by stem cell therapy and love of an old flame - Leeds Live - April 12th, 2021
- New pediatric cancer treatment method being used in Iran - Tehran Times - April 12th, 2021
- Personalized Cancer Vaccine Shows Early Efficacy in Patients With Diverse Tumor Types - Technology Networks - April 12th, 2021
- 1000th Stem Cell Transplant Given to Girl Who Is One in a Million - Stanford Children's Health Blog - Stanford Children's Health - April 10th, 2021
- Home : Stem Cell Treatments - April 10th, 2021
- Researchers discover unique regenerative property of cells in the early human embryo - News-Medical.net - April 10th, 2021
- Study reveals sex-differences in aging of the brain stem cell niche - News-Medical.net - April 10th, 2021
- Antibiotics need further study in cancer treatments - Chicago Daily Herald - April 10th, 2021
- Prolonged infection and inflammation drain immune responses as we age - Baylor College of Medicine News - April 10th, 2021
- Toward a transformative therapy for sickle cell patients - News-Medical.Net - April 10th, 2021
- Mass. Residents 55+ Or With 1 Medical Condition Can Now Get COVID Vaccine | WBZ NewsRadio 1030 - iHeartRadio - April 6th, 2021
- Mortality from Multiple Myeloma Within One Year Following Autologous Stem Cell Transplantation: Defining an Ultra-high Risk Population - DocWire News - April 6th, 2021
- BioRestorative Therapies Announces Appointment of Nickolay V. Kukekov, Ph.D to its Board of Directors - BioSpace - April 6th, 2021
- LGL Leukemia: Overview, Symptoms, and Treatment - Healthline - April 3rd, 2021
- Novel T-Cell Therapy MT-401 Under Evaluation in Post-Transplant AML - OncLive - April 3rd, 2021
- Funding the Next Generation of Cancer Therapies - Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News - April 3rd, 2021
- Do Therapies for Alzheimer's & Parkinson's that Clear Abnormal Brain Proteins Make the Diseases Worse? - BioSpace - April 3rd, 2021
- Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for therapy-related myeloid neoplasms following treatment of a lymphoid malignancy - DocWire News - April 1st, 2021
- Insulin 100: How the road to a diabetes cure is yielding better treatments - News@UofT - April 1st, 2021
- The Government's Watchful Eye on Fraud Stemming from Stem Cell Therapy - Lexology - April 1st, 2021
- Introducing a neuro regenerative gene into mice with spinal cord injury improves motor function - News-Medical.net - April 1st, 2021
- Gracell Biotechnologies Announces Enrollment of First Patient in Registrational Phase 1/2 Clinical Study for GC007g, an Allogeneic CAR-T Cell Therapy... - April 1st, 2021
- Russell Health Highlighted in the Silicon Review's '50 Leading Companies of the Year 2021' - PRNewswire - April 1st, 2021
- The Impact of CAR-T Cell Therapy in Relapsed/Refractory Multiple Myeloma - Targeted Oncology - April 1st, 2021
- Third-Line CAR T-Cell Therapy Improves Outcomes in B-Cell Lymphomas - OncLive - April 1st, 2021
- The Recovery Room: News beyond the pandemic April 2 - Medical News Today - April 1st, 2021
- Actor Kirron Kher diagnosed with blood cancer: Know the symptoms, treatment options of multiple myeloma - Times Now - April 1st, 2021
- Transplant After CD19 CAR T-Cell Therapy Shows Durable Disease Control in Children, Young Adults With B-ALL - Cancer Network - March 30th, 2021
- First CAR T-Cell Therapy for Multiple Myeloma: Abecma - Medscape - March 30th, 2021
- Leukemia in Children: Types and Treatment - Healthline - March 30th, 2021
- Zombie Genes and the Brain; Concussion Spit Test; Your Brain on Puppies - MedPage Today - March 30th, 2021
- Asymmetrex Describes How New Technologies for Quantifying Stem Cell Dosage Will Improve the Effectiveness of the Stem Cell Clinical Trial Supply Chain... - March 29th, 2021