In the past 100 years, improvements in medical technology have had enormous impact on life expectancy. In America, life expectancy has increased from 47 years in 1900 to 78 years today. Although life expectancy has improved, the maximum span of human life of 125 years and few of us have to make the century mark.
Like Ponce de Leon and the search for the mythical Fountain of Youth, great things are happening in regenerative medicine and anti-aging technologies. Clinical evidence is mounting that one of the most important mechanisms of human aging, telomere shortening, can be halted or even reversed with drugs that induce the production of telomerase.
Telomerase is the enzyme that rebuilds telomeres. Telomeres are the end pieces of our strands of DNA in chromosomes. Without telomerase, telomeres shorten each time a cell divides.
As we age, the cumulative increase divisions and the length of telomere shortening tapas. Finally, the strands too short to allow the cells to divide and regenerate accurately. Cells age. Finally, when enough of our cells age, they die.
Unlike humans, animals always generate telomerase. Lobsters, for example, are considered essentially immortal. Their telomeres do not shorten. Some animals as pets have approached and even surpassed the century mark.
Even wild animals like whales, evidence has accumulated that their life expectancies are longer than previously thought. For example, a whale was spotted with a harpoon point 130 years old in his neck. Since the whalers in general do not take the calves, which must have been at least a few years old at the time was harpooned.
In humans, the only healthy cells do not age are the reproductive cells. Since the telomerase gene turned “on”, telomeres do not shorten when cells divide.
Occasionally, telomerase gene in adult cells regulate lights, resulting in a cell rejuvenation. Scientists have used gamma radiation to activate the telomerase gene in cell culture, and some speculate that the natural gamma can trigger events in living organisms.
If somehow you could lengthen the telomeres in all our cells, could in theory greatly increase human life span. Perhaps most importantly, it would be healthier in old age, and too few telomeres result in malfunctioning of the cell.
There are several companies looking at ways to increase the production of telomerase. Have developed tools such as genetic engineering and DNA vaccines. And when they are able to succeed in the expansion covers health, their products will be in demand as time is the product for which there is an unlimited demand.
Until those products are developed, tested, approved and marketed, most of us take steps to improve our health and slow the aging to the extent we can.
Exercise and stress reduction has the effect of reducing the loss of telomeres.
Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D3 are associated with a decrease in the rate of telomere loss.
These strategies, however, only slow the aging process, but do not extend our lives.
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