By Wired.com | 4th February 2015
As Seen In Wired.Com
Since the beginning of civilization, humans have obsessed over a way to reverse aging. This quixotic quest for the “Fountain of Youth” had, up until recently, proven mostly fruitless. We have devised ways to mask the cosmetic effects of getting older — look no further than the roughly $11 billion spent annually on plastic surgery in the United States. But these procedures do nothing to address the root cause of aging.
To do that, we need to look at the foundation of our bodies — our cells — and more specifically, at the tiny caps at the end of each strand of our DNA. These caps are called telomeres, and a growing portfolio of research suggests that they may hold the key to understanding why our bodies age — and how we may be able to slow or even reverse the cellular aging process.
Telomeres are parts of our chromosomes that play a critical role in how our cells age. Think of them like the plastic tips at the end of your shoelaces. When those plastic tips wear down, your shoelaces become frayed and no longer work as well. Telomeres function in a similar fashion, by protecting the strands of DNA that make up our chromosomes and allowing our cells to function and reproduce properly.
There’s one catch: each time our cells reproduce, our telomeres get a little bit shorter. When they get too short, cells will die or become senescent. This shortening of our telomeres is the main cause of age-related breakdown in our cells. Cells that reproduce the most — such as those in the skin, lungs and parts of our immune system — are most affected by telomere shortening. Poor lifestyle choices, such as an unhealthy diet, psychological stress or lack of exercise can also affect telomere length.
Scientists have known about the link between telomeres and cellular aging for decades. In recent years, however, interest in telomeres — and their direct role in the aging process — has exploded. In 2009, a group of scientists was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine for their discovery of how telomerase, an enzyme found in the cells, impacts telomere length. Further research indicates that, by activating telomerase, we may be able to slow, stop or perhaps even reverse the telomere shortening that occurs as we age.
This discovery holds profound implications for the future of anti-aging technology and research. What if, instead of merely masking the effects of aging through cosmetic means, we could slow or even reverse the root cause of aging at the cellular level? What if we could make our cells actually function as if they were younger?
At T.A. Sciences, we’re dedicated exclusively to exploring this exciting new field of telomere biology by creating research-based, clinically tested wellness products that address cellular aging through telomerase activation. We’re hardly the only ones, however, who see the potential of science to help combat the effects of cellular aging. Even Google is getting in on the field. The company established a new medical company last year called Calico, which aims to use scientific research to combat aging and its associated diseases.
We may not have found the fountain of youth yet, but for the first time in history, science and technology may be opening the door to solutions.
Noel Thomas Patton founder and CEO of T.A. Sciences.