Biological research on cellular longevity reached a cornerstone in 2009 when Elizabeth BlackBurn, Carol Greider, and Jack Szostak all won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering that telomeres, protective DNA caps at the ends of chromosomes, govern the lifespan of cells. The length of telomeres in turn are protected and augmented by an enzyme called telomerase.Research on telomerase has shown that it functions as an inhibitor to telomere shortening by replacing bits of DNA strands that are naturally lost when a cell divides.
One of the main reasons telomeres DNA research has reached center focus in heath discussions across research laboratories and media outlets is that patients and scientists alike are fascinated by a hugely important question in the science of aging: Can telomeres be lengthened? If so, how?
It has been known to researchers that some compounds slow down telomere shortening, including omega-3′s, folate, vitamin D, ginger, N-acetyl cysteine. But the scientific study of cellular aging took an exciting turn when it was discovered in animal and human trials that an astragaloside compound derived from Astragalus membraneceus, a root used widely in traditional Chinese medicine, promotes telomerase activity and therefore lengthens telomeres.
Biotech company Geron developed a special extraction of the herb now called TA-65, and marketed by TA Sciences. Currently, patients can only undergo regimens of TA-65 through healthcare professionals. Dr. Woynarowski, former consultant for TA Sciences, explains that high-dose treatment really is the best way to see results from TA-65.
When it comes to telomeres, the longer the better. That’s what Dr. Andrews of Sierra Sciences says when asked about TA-65. Although, some researchers claim there is still more data necessary to assert that TA-65 lengthens telomeres without increasing the risk of diseases associated with immortal telomeres such as cancer. The discovery of TA-65 may be a milestone advancement in the science of longevity, opening the pathways for a richer understanding of the process of aging with potential cellular age-reversal therapies.