Study May Have Accidentally Found Age Reversal

In a trial, participants took three drugs — a growth hormone, a hormone supplement and Metformin — what the scientists saw surprised them.

Initially, Immunologist Gregory Fahy, chief scientific officer and co-founder of Intervene Immune in Los Angeles, was only looking for a way to regenerate the thymus gland. A shrinking thymus glans is a sign of aging; it starts to deteriorate after puberty. The thymus gland plays a significant role in the immune system. White blood cells, made in bone marrow, mature inside the thymus. Then they become specialized T cells and help fight infections and cancers. So being able to restore the gland would be a massive boon to medicine.

The study found that the mix of drugs did aid the thymus gland; it also revealed that the participants had “de-aged.”

On average, a person's “epigenetic clock” was reversed by two and a half years. The volunteers in the year-long study were all white men between 51 and 65 years of age. Their “new age” was determined by looking at changes in DNA that occur as we age, seeing their biological instead of chronological age.

Using blood samples that had been collected through the research, Dr. Fahy, reached out to UCLA’s Steve Horvath. Dr. Horvath is a geneticist known for his highly accurate readings of epigenetic clocks. Dr. Horvath studied the samples and found that the men were “younger” than they were at the start and had an increased life expectancy.

I’d expected to see slowing down of the clock, but not a reversal,” says Dr. Horvath. “That felt kind of futuristic.

Looking at people biological age was purely an afterthought to Dr. Fahy. So the discovery could have gone unnoticed in favor of just seeing the good results for the thymus gland.

The results are far from conclusive. It was a small study, without a control group or a placebo group, and Dr. Fahy wants to research a larger group. However, Dr. Horvath said, “Because we could follow the changes within each individual, and because the effect was so very strong in each of them, I am optimistic.

This research has the possibility of impacting how we fight cancer, infections and aging itself.
 
Banner image: Mpelletier1, Wikimedia
September 12, 2019
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