Getting older is just one of this things we have all learned to accept.
But maybe we don’t have to accept it for much longer.
A new drug trial funded by the biomedical firm Intervene Immune in Los Angeles has stumbled on a way of reversing the ageing process.
Ageing is measured by the deterioration of your DNA, and no amount of face cream or exercise can prevent the gradual changes that build up year after year.
But the results of Intervene Immune’s tests, published this week in the scientific journal Aging Cell, suggest that a cocktail of drugs can actually reverse the damage – leaving you biologically “younger” than when you started taking it.
The scientists administering the trial wen’t expecting to discover the Fountain of Youth. They were focused on rejuvenating the thymus gland, a tiny organ that helps the immune system operate.
But when the test subjects – all white men between the ages of 51 and 65 – took the combination of hormones and diabetes medication over the course of a year their cells actually became over two years “younger”.
It took 9 months for the effect of the drugs to really kick in, but tests 6 months after the end of the trial suggest that the fix was permanent.
“It has never been shown before that predicted biological age…can be reversed over time in the same individuals, and especially so after an intervention of this kind,” Sara Hägg, a molecular epidemiologist at the Karolinska Institutet in Solna, Sweden, told science blog Live Science .
Because there were only a few test subjects, and they weren’t a genetically very diverse group, the trial needs to be repeated with a much bigger sample group before any wild claims of ‘switching off ageing’ can be made.
The organisers plan to start those new trials very soon, with double-blind tests to make sure that there were other factors – such as a placebo effect or unconscious changes in lifestyle – at play.
But this early revelation could be the beginning of the end of old age.