Watching Edward Cullen in Twilight sure would have been a disappointment. Vampires are supposed to be tougher and less shiny. Forgive me, but I am not a Twilight fan. And besides, the thought of immortality coupled with surviving on drinking blood doesn’t exactly sound like an appetizing lifestyle choice.
But as humans and their technologies advance, so will we as a race and a species.
And a proof of that would be the first successful gene therapy against aging for Elizabeth Parrish, CEO of Bioviva USA Inc. which reversed 20 years of normal telomere shortening.
Telomeres which are compound structures at the end of chromosomes are formed of regions of repetitive nucleotide sequences. They are the end parts of the chromosome that are disposable when the chromosome replicates during cell division. Telomere shortening basically leads to senescence or biological aging. The telomere score is then calculated based on the telomere length of the white blood cells.
Elizabeth Parrish received 2 gene therapies from her own company – one to prevent loss of muscle mass due to age and the other to fight stem-cell consumption that is responsible for age-related diseases and illnesses.
The data collected post the therapy showed a marked increase in telomere lengthening, a practice that had been carried out in cultured cells and mice before, but never on a human subject.
Parrish’s telomere data which had been taken in September 2015, showed her telomere lengths to be extremely small for her age, which could lead to her becoming susceptible to age-related illnesses earlier than normal.
When the same data was taken in March 2016, it was noted that Parrish’s white blood cell telomere length had increased from 6.71kb to 7.33kb, which is 20 years in age. The data was verified by the Brussels-based non-profit HEALES (Healthy Life Extension Company), and the Biogerontology Research Foundation, a UK-based charity.
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The company intends to keep testing Parrish’s blood for many months and years to come while they focus on testing new gene therapies and combination therapies to combat age-related damage to the cells and body.
Elizabeth Parrish reacted to it by saying, “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.”
Bioviva has declared Elizabeth as ‘patient zero’ and plans to see whether the same telomere lengthening gene therapy can be successfully applied to other tissues and organs of the body.
Dmitry Kaminskiy, a founding partner of Deep Knowledge Life Sciences (DKLS), a London-based investment fund which plans to help push the development of biotechnology to prolong aging has said, “BioViva has the potential to create breakthroughs in human gene therapy research while leapfrogging companies in the biotech market.”
We think so too Mr. Kaminskiy. And we hope we reach closer to regressing the process of aging or choose immortality if we ever successfully attain it.
Till then, all we can do is hope.