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article imageOp-Ed: Natural herb proven to slow and reverse aging hits the marketscence

By Thomas Amshay     May 1, 2011 in Health
The key to long life may prove to be the length of our telomeres, which are caps on the ends of our DNA strands. TA-65 a research-validated oral supplement shown to be able to repair and protect telomeres is about to go mainstream.
Natural medicine devotees will enjoy that TA-65 is a naturally occurring single molecule found in the ancient Chinese herb Astragalus. It should be noted that the astragalus herb even in a grossly exaggerated dose will not achieve the results of TA-65. The manufacturer says, "Our proprietary production process starts with 3 tons of plant material and ends up with capsules that we guarantee contain 5mg of TA-65."
TA-65 is not cheap, but that will change as it gains notoriety and the discovering company licenses it to more distributors, or as knockoffs hit the market. I have been writing about this kind of stuff for a long time, and from what I have seen thus far I would be taking TA-65 in a minute if not for the cost.
Meanwhile the future keeps looking rosier as mainstream media and science journals report on TA-65 research. And while TA-65 may prove to be "It" there are more anti-aging breakthroughs on the sidelines.
Right now the immortality strategy should be to do the correct things so you remain alive and healthy until you can afford TA-65 and the other anti-aging protocols on the verge of entering the marketplace.
Telomere knowledge began in the early 1900s, but only in the past two decades have we begun to understand their influence on aging, which led to looking for a way to safely manipulate them.
It has been known for some time that humans who age well tend to have longer-than-average telomeres. And it was known that telomeres get shorter as we get older, and so it was believed that keeping them from shrinking might be the fountain of youth.
The 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology went to Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Carol W. Greider, and Jack W. Szostak (all from the U.S.) who discovered how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase. Just what is a telomere?
First, a chromosome is a long strand of DNA . At the end of DNA is a telomere whose job is to keep the DNA from being damaged during normal cell division and replication, which requires an unwrapping of the DNA helix.
Dr. Mark Stibich at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine explains it this way: "Each time a cell divides, the DNA unwraps and the information in the DNA is copied. The process does not copy all of the DNA information — the telomeres are not copied. When the cell is finished dividing, the DNA comes back together. The telomeres lose a little bit of length each time this happens."
If you want an understandable explanation of DNA this is a piece I wrote some time ago using images to demonstrate DNA, cell replication, and protein synthesis.
After about 50 replications by a cell the telomere can become shortened to the point that essential parts of the DNA are exposed, which can lead to damaged DNA. To prevent damage, or some say perhaps because of DNA damage, cells having short-telomeres (coincidental with about 50 replications) will stop dividing. That is known as the (Leonard) Hayflick Limit, named after the scientist who made the discovery in 1961.
Researchers are able to measure telomere length to determine a cell's age and how many more times is can replicate before it stops and enters senescence or old age.
Another reason telomere length is important is it can keep cancer cells from running wild. Cells are programmed to die (apoptosis, shown in this visual)
Cancer can occur when specific cells stop dying. Our systems need to remain in a state of equilibrium so cells replicate and die, but if the balance is disrupted and we have too many cells of one kind they are prone to producing tumors.
Researchers believe that cancer cells cause the enzyme telomerase (enzymes usually end in ASE) to be released, which prevents cancer cell-telomeres from getting shorter, which can enable them to replicate over and over. You've heard that cancer is cells gone wild; if cancer cells would die the cancer would die, too.
Though each cell has the genetic code to make telomerase, certain cells don't because some, such as white blood cells, have to make more than 50 copies of themselves.
A breakthrough in telomere science took place in November 2010 when Harvard researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute partially reversed age-related degeneration in mice. They achieved the milestone by breeding mice with a controllable telomerase gene that affects the telomerase enzyme (explained above).
While the Harvard research signifies anti-aging or perhaps age-reversal under lab conditions with purpose-bred test subjects, researchers are quick to add that more study is needed, though sometimes there is a tipping point in which one discovery speeds up subsequent advances.
Almost lost between the early work of Leonard Hayflick and the 2010 Harvard discovery, the discovery, testing, and bringing to market of TA-65 transpired. As stated in Aging Cell, the main journal of geriatrics and gerontology, "The Telomerase Activator TA-65 elongates short telomeres and increases health span of adult/old mice without increasing cancer incidence." Of note is that the benefits were achieved without increasing cancer, a major concern of scientists.
TA-65 was discovered by U.S. California biotech company, Geron, which licensed the product to TA Sciences which has been involved in human trials since 2005 and is currently the sole distributor.
Another journal, Rejuvenation Research in Sept 2010 published a peer reviewed paper, A Natural Product Telomerase Activator as Part of a Health Maintenance Program demonstrating that, "TA-65 transiently activates telomerase, lengthens short telomeres, and rescues and restores the aging immune system in humans." The operative phrase being in humans. There is more info on the TA Sciences website including reports from users of the product.
The only downside is the cost which can easily exceed US $1,000 plus per month though that may begin to tumble as more users come on board, which is a likelihood as TA-65 appears in mainstream articles.
For those who find the current price a bit out of range, there could be a secondary opportunity with the product manufacturer, a publicly traded company having some interesting products in the works.
Meanwhile if you are interested in a supplement that is affordable, which could deliver similar benefits though not necessarily through the same pathways, you might be interested in boosting your glutathione level. If you are like I was not long ago you have heard of glutathione but don't really know much about it. This link is to an article on my website that I suggest you read.
Information presented by Thomas Amshay is for education only and not meant to cure, guide treatment, or take the place of a licensed health practitioner. Consult your health care team before starting any exercise program, diet, or supplement
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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