Every time a cell inside your body mimics, a part of your youth is eroded by dirt. This telomeres are caused by shortening of the structures that ‘cap’ the tips of our chromosomes.
Now, Israeli scientists say they have been able to counteract this process and lengthen telomeres in a small study involving 26 patients.
Participants sat in a hyperbaric oxygen oxygen chamber for five 90-minute sessions per week for three months and, as a result, telomeres in some of their cells were increased by 20 percent.
That’s an impressive claim – and some other researchers have tried without success in the past. But of course it’s worth flagging that this is the size of a small sample, and we’ll need to copy the results before we can get too excited.
However, the fact that hyperbaric oxygen therapy affects the length of the telomere is an indispensable link to further investigation.
Shire Efrati, a lead researcher at Tel Aviv University’s Faculty of Medicine and Sagol School of Neuroscience, explained to ScienceAlert how the motivation for his experiment is somewhat out of this world.
“After two experiments by NASA, where one twin was sent into outer space and the other stayed on Earth, their telomeres showed significant differences in length. We understood that changes in the outer atmosphere could affect the main cellular. Happens with old age, ”Efrati said.
Telem res are repeating parts of the code that act as the DNA equivalent of a plastic or metal eagle that marks the end of the shoe.
Whenever a cell divides, it replicates itself with the rest of the chromosomes. Yet with each duplicate, small pieces of code from the very top of the sequence fail to make it into a new cp, leaving the refreshed chromosome shorter than its predecessor.
Anyone who knows anyone has lost the cap of their shoes, it doesn’t take long to lose the integrity of the shoes. Similarly, shorter telemeres placed more indexes in the chromosome because of the higher risk of risk mutations.
This change is consistent with the changes that result in a set of age-related conditions, not least in all diseases such as cancer.
Needless to say we age as our telomeres shrink, but there is a connection between telomere length and health that researchers are eager to investigate further.
“Long telemores are compatible with better cellular performance,” Efretti explained.
There are plenty of ways to accelerate the erosion of our telemares. Not getting enough sleep can do that, as can boom over over processed food, and even children.
It takes a little more effort to slow down the damage, but if you want your chromosomes to stay as long as possible, participating in regular exercise and eating well are sound bets.
A real achievement would be to completely flip our chromosomal clockcoglass and return the lost sections of the telomere. The fact that high turnover tissue in our gut does this naturally using an enzyme called telomerase has prompted years of research.
There are many goals in the effort to achieve this task. Gene therapy in rats has shown that it is one day possible in humans. Most recently, the stem cells of a supercenterian woman completely reset their telemarines outside her body.
Some studies have found a small increase of perhaps a few percent with the provision of nutritional supplements such as vitamin D.
Plenty of promises are being made in the market to reverse aging in already living humans, while the reality of science-backed therapies, which we can use to give 20-year-old telomeres.
This is the reason why the latest study is attracting so much attention. Far more than two or three percent, telomeres in white blood cells taken from 26 subjects in this recent study have returned around one-fifth of their lost length.
Apparently, it is hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) – the absorption of pure oxygen while sitting in a pressure chamber for a long period of time; In this case, five 90-minute sessions per week for three months.
HBOT has attracted controversy in the past for claims that it could treat a variety of conditions. It’s usually the kind of treatment you want to give a diver coming too fast from the depths of the ocean, or to kill the oxygen-sensitive microbes in the wound, which won’t heal in any other way.
But there is also a strange paradox behind oxygen-oxygen-rich environments, one where genetic and molecular changes take place in the body that usually occur in low oxygen.
In this study, researchers were able to show that genetic mutations induced by HBOT have expanded telomeres, and also had a potentially positive effect on tissue health.
A slightly smaller sample of volunteers also showed a significant decrease in the number of Sensant T cells, tissues that are an important part of our immune system’s targeted response against invaders.
Whether you sit in a small tank every day for a quarter of the year is a matter of choice, but future research can help make the whole process more efficient, at least for some.
“Once we have demonstrated the effect of reverse aging on the study group using the predefined HBOT protocol, further studies are needed to optimize the specific protocol per person,” Efrati told ScienceAlert.
In a press release from The Sagol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Research, Efrati says that understanding telomere shortening is considered the “holy grail” of the biology of aging.
As telomere seems to shrink, the failure of our biology is a more complex matter than the lost pieces of chromosomes.
The reactivation of telomeres is also a tactic used by cancer to stay ahead of the growth-curve, making this sacred grail a potential toxic chalice that we need to better understand before we drink too much.
Interestingly, research like this will help create a better picture of the aging process.
This research was published in Aging.