The biological age of humans may be reversed by years- A groundbreaking study
A recent research study shows that researchers might be able to not only slow down the process of aging but can reverse it, Benjamin Button-style.
Volunteers in a California research study were given a cocktail of three common drugs for one year which included a growth hormone and two diabetes medications. Researchers had been testing these drugs in the hope of regenerating the thymus gland.
But upon further analysis, researchers found that participants of the study had lost an average of 2.5 years on their epigenetic clock, which is measured by analyzing marks on a person’s genomes, according to the journal Nature. The study participants’ immune systems also showed signs of rejuvenation.
Even the researchers who conducted the study were shocked by the results.UCLA researcher Steve Horvath told Nature that the research team had expected to see slowing down of the clock, but not a reversal which they felt kind of futuristic.
Scientists warn the findings of the study, that accidentally revealed that the biological age of humans may be reversed by years, are preliminary: the research study only included 9 participants and did not include a control group. But if further research confirms these findings of the study, the impact on health care and society’s relationship with aging as a whole could be a massive discovery.
The epigenetic clock is measured by a record of a series of chemical changes that happens to an organism’s DNA. The study’s main purpose was to test whether growth hormone could be used to restore tissue in the thymus gland, which is actually crucial for immune function. The Thymus gland starts to shrink after puberty and it becomes clogged by fat. Former studies had shown growth hormone stimulates regeneration in the thymus, but it can also cause diabetes, this is why the diabetes medications were included in the most recent study that accidentally revealed the biological age reversing.
Researchers only even checked the epigenetic clocks in the study participants as an afterthought. Horvath looked at 4 different measures of the epigenetic clocks of each of the participants of the study. Hovarth found all of them had reversed significantly.
This helped him to find that the biological effect of the treatment was robust. said Horvath. 6 participants of the study provided their blood samples six months after the trial and the effect had remained the same in these participants. Given that the effect was so strong in each participant, Horvath is optimistic for future testing.
The scientists are planning a larger study on biological age reversing with more diverse participants by age, gender and ethnicity and the three drugs are being tested independently to determine specific effects.