Joyce Chen ’23
Biological age is the measurement of the true ages of humans through the chemical changes in their DNA. Previous research and hypotheses inferred that reversing this can allow humans to acquire better immune systems and healthier bodies in general. To test if biological age reversal is actually possible, determined scientists from Intervene Immune and the University of California, Los Angeles, completed a one year clinical trial utilizing a drug cocktail to deter the effects of aging.
Dr. Gregory Fahy, an immunologist from Intervene Immune, led the trial, also known as TRIIM or Thymus Regeneration, Immunorestoration, and Insulin Mitigation. Dr. Fahy and the other researchers aimed to prevent the thymus, a gland in the chest that fights against diseases and infections, from shrinking, as it naturally shrinks after puberty. Rejuvenating the thymus allows for the elderly and people with weaker immune systems to be able to fight off numerous diseases, such as pneumonia. For the trial, researchers obtained a sample of nine healthy men between the ages of 51 and 65. The subjects were given three types of drugs, including a recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH), dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and metformin. Both DHEA and metformin are drugs used to fight or prevent diabetes. To the surprise of the researchers, the studies revealed that the subjects regained two and a half years of biological age. With the use of blood samples and MRI technology, scientists discovered that seven of the participants restored thymus tissue and had an increased amount of blood-cells due to the use of the growth hormone, which stimulates the regeneration of thymic cells. DHEA and metformin also seemingly intervened with the inflammation that leads to aging in the hypothalamus. In addition, six months after the study, six participants still showed signs of the treatment after providing final blood samples.
The study not only demonstrates that our biological clock can be slowed, but it also shows that it can also be reversed with beneficial side effects. However, the study had a rather small sample size and was poorly controlled. However, Dr. Fahy’s company, Intervene Immune, is planning on conducting a larger and more diverse study that will include different age groups, sexes, and ethnicities. Perhaps eternal life is not as impossible as people initially thought. With consistent research, it is becoming closer to reality.
- G. Fahy, et al., Reversal of epigenetic aging and immunosenescent trends in humans. Aging Cell, (2019). doi: 10.1111/acel.13028
- Image retrieved from: https://www.pexels.com/photo/light-sunset-people-water-34014/