Fountain of youth or fountain of death, my experiences with telomerase activation

Telomere: a chunk of repeating DNA at the end of all chromosomes, tied directly to cell health and cell lifespan.  It shortens with age and many stresses including sleep deprivation, emotional stress, physical inactivity, diseases and poor dietary choices.

Telomerase: (short for telomere reverse transcriptase) the enzyme that lengthens the telomere, highly active in only a few types of cells.

As an expert in the clinical application of telomere biology, I get a lot of question from people asking if telomeres and telomerase, the enzyme that lengthens them, are really the cure for aging or a potential cause for cancer.

The story goes like this.  The telomere is a biologic time clock.  The “pop culture” application of this and the one we use in our book, “The Immortality Edge”, states that you can live to 120 years because of telomere length but not much longer.  We took some license and called this the Hayflick limit as others before us have, even though this is not really what Dr Hayflick discovered or said.  The bottom line is that it seems to have stuck and a lot of people say that the Hayflick limit is the reason we can only live to 120 years.  This limit is directly related to the length of the telomere as we now know.

So there you have it; a simple, easy- to-understand mechanism of why cells can only divide so many times before they die.  Every time the cell reproduces, it is one step closer to death and the telomeres are keeping track of the whole process in a sense.  Once they get used up and become short, the cell stops dividing and dies. And in recent years, the pathways that lead to cell death through aging and disease have been mapped out and ultimately end up shortening the telomere.

The neat thing is that the “telomere theory of aging” includes and helps explain many of the other theories like wear and tear, free radical oxidative damage, the mitochondria theory of aging and many others. As a  result, we know that all of the things we identify as “unhealthy” including diseases like heart disease and diabetes and conditions like being fat, shorten the telomeres and thus shorten our lives.

So what if you can lengthen the telomere or at least slow down the loss?

Well that is the topic of our book, “The Immortality Edge”.  I, along with two other well know anti-aging experts, Dr Mike Fossel and Greta Blackburn, collaborated to create an “everyman’s guide” to keeping those telomeres long. Now most people want to live longer AND a lot healthier, and the book is written with that in mind.

Areas of huge interest are drugs and supplements.

Right now the supplement that lengthens telomeres in live free-living humans, TA-65, is very expensive and not likely to come down in price soon. Other supplements are often claimed to “turn on telomerase” but when tested in human cell lines at doses that a person could actually take do not work very well or at all. 

In addition no other supplement besides TA-65 has human data and this is not likely to change even as people rush new supplements to the market in response to our book and the amazing new findings in telomere biology.

I have personally verified supplements that work and do not work at a world renowned lab that does nothing but test for telomerase activity.  That lab is Sierra Sciences and is run by Dr William Andrews, a friend of mine and the man who discovered the human telomerase gene.  Dr Andrews is responsible for much of what the world knows about telomeres and telomerase. He is one of the truly amazing researchers in the field and, in my opinion, deserves far more recognition and support than he has gotten for his advances in medicine and of course telomerase biology.

Resveratrol is an example of where much confusion exists.  It is listed as both telomerase activator and telomerase inhibitor.  Indeed before both properties were evaluated by Sierra Sciences, the lab that does nothing but test for telomerase.  Citations and articles appeared demonstrating both activities which is pretty much impossible.  Their results with resveratrol and ones that I trust implicitly show no activity of commercial brands either way.

There are supplements that turn on telomerase or preserve telomere length by other means with enough power to preserve telomere length, but slowing down the shortening is very different than adding length.  TA-65 has been proven to add telomere length in real live human beings.

I mentioned TA-65 was expensive but many people who could afford TA-65 are holding back to see if the concept is real or if there are any side effects.

Is it real?  In the past week an article was released that got a lot of attention. A researcher named Dr DePinho used the telomerase enzyme to make lab mice young again.  At least some of the scientific community reacted with astonishment.  While this is an exciting study and certainly appreciated for its contribution, those of us who have been in the field for years are not at all surprised.

This is not the first experiment of its kind.

Almost a decade ago a fellow named Walter Funk, who worked with Dr Andrews, grafted old human skin onto mice and then turned on telomerase.  The skin assumed the characteristics of young skin.  Few noticed Funk’s experiment– probably because it was “too far ahead of its time”.  Last year a human population was discovered with “more active” telomerase.  Telomerase is not active in most of us and that is why we age for the most part.  The people who had this more active telomerase lived longer and were healthier as a whole.  As a matter of fact, the study was done in people over 100 years old.

While I do not discount the importance of studies in genetically altered mice, the people who are taking TA-65 and /or supplements that slow down telomere erosion are doing what amounts to the best kind of experiment — one done in free-living humans.  A study was published earlier this year in Rejuvenation Research detailing the extreme safety

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Dr. David Woynarowski

Dr. Dave Woynarowski, MD, was born in the 1950s in the heart of Southeastern Pennsylvania. Raised in a family of doctors and scientists, “Dr. Dave” continued the tradition, graduating from Temple Medical School in the 1980s, after earning his Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Pennsylvania with a dual major in Biology and English.

After completing his Residency in Internal Medicine, Dr. Dave passed the Internal Medicine Boards and joined his father who had been practicing Family Medicine for three decades.

Dr. Dave later embarked on a worldwide pursuit, researching the best-of-the-best in anti-aging medicine. His exhaustive search has made him one of the foremost authorities is preventative health, anti-aging, and nutritional supplements. For example, he may have more scientific research in his medical library on the health benefits of pharmaceutical grade fish oil than any other person in the world. In addition to study and research, Dr. Dave began the development of a new category of nutritional supplements, formulated from his expertise as a physician, and made from only pharmaceutical-grade ingredients.

"“I traveled the globe for many years, searching the four corners of the earth and left no stone unturned,” says Dr. Dave. “What I found is that most people can be significantly healthier through the use of high quality, properly formulated supplements. The problem was that most of the available products did not use a high enough grade of active ingredients, or did not combine the correct amount of ingredients for a multiple-pronged rather than a single-focus approach to the issue. So I developed Dr. Dave’s Best to meet the need."

Dr. Dave is also co-author of "The Immortality Edge" a book dedicated to teaching everyone about the newest hottest field in anti-aging technology, Telomere Biology and giving practical proven advice for better health and a longer life that everyone can use RIGHT NOW!

Dr. David Woynarowski

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  1. Lori says

    With all due respect to Dr. Dave, I had no idea that aging in and of itself is a “disease”. That makes all of us “sick”, since we all age, and therefore opens up greater profitability for a “cure”. Sorry, I’ll stick with real food, realistic exercise, and a positive mental attitude. That’s what my grandparents did and they lived well into their late 90s. Honestly, when we try to outsmart “mother nature”, we’ll eventually get bitten in the butt.

  2. Zsolt says

    I think it is really a fantastic scientific breakthrough – I mean the activation of the ensime telomerase. It well maybe the most significant feat ever achieved by medical science. The only hitch is, that TA-65 is well above the financial means of most elderly people of the world, being 4000 bucks for 6 months. An other product is also in the market – Astogaloside, with a much more acceptable price range. I am looking forward very much for human data, about its implementation.

  3. says

    To my commenters:
    We all have our beliefs all I can tell is I test everything on myself and my own telomeres have picked up 250 base pairs on TA-65 and the other supplements I take. This is unprecedented and represents at least 2 to3 years of “age reversal” You may also know I run an 80 mile race in the Canadian Rockies called the Canadian Death Race for my charity I am in my 50’s so this is no mean feat and I think represents a functional kind of “youthing” as I was not a runner prior to this in any big way.
    I have sent several brands of Astragalosides off to be tested for telomerase activation at Sierra Sciences labs. They show no activity at all. You may have a different brand perhaps. I highly doubt there will ever be any human data done by reputable labs but you must do as you feel. It’s your life and only you can know its value. But hopefully you’ve already read the book The Immortality Edge ( Amazon B+N etc) and are already aware of the many other supportive things you can do. In addition keep an eye on my YouTube channel for some “value added” stuff I am posting on exercise etc.

    AS far as aging as a disease, well we call ourselves anti-aging doctors so we absolutely believe it is a disease. The components of it heart disease brain malfunctions diabetes etc etc all produce similar findings in telomere length and when reversed all cause gains in function and health. I consider heart disease diabetes eye denegation etc. signs of the disease known as aging.

    I can promise you this until traditional medicine agrees that aging is a disease we will not make progress in any of its symptoms to the degree we should. WE will simply continue to “put our fingers in the leaking dike” instead of fixing it once and for all. I understand it’s a huge paradigm shift: you don’t have to get sick and you don’t have to die of old age unless you want too, but that is exactly where we will head sooner or later. It is not going to be any easy “fight” for many reasons including the way we look at “getting old”.

    Again: the book The Immortality Edge offers other less expensive ways to slow down telomere loss but other than TA-65 there is no way to lengthen them and no one else has human data. It is likely that sometime down the road a less expensive supplement (or unfortunately a drug) may be available but in the meantime there is lots you can do that does not even require pills.

    I wish all of you a Happy healthy Holiday Season and thanks for your interest.

  4. says

    Here are some of the early experiments that are in many ways similar to the DePinho study but done well before it was published.

    Samper, E., J. M. Flores, et al. (2001). Restoration of telomerase activity rescues chromosomal instability and premature aging in Terc-/- mice with short telomeres. EMBO Rep 2(9): 800-7

    The above study essentially did the same thing only 10 years ago!

    Cawthon, R. M., K. R. Smith, et al. (2003). Association between telomere length in blood and mortality in people aged 60 years or older. Lancet 361(9355): 393-5.

    Short telomeres equal sickness and death!

    Tomás-Loba, A., I. Flores, et al. (2008). Telomerase Reverse Transcriptase Delays Aging in Cancer-Resistant Mice. Cell 135(4): 609-622.

    A different strain of mouse than DePinho but similar results

  5. Anonymous says

    Can a 73 year old woman who has had triple bypass surgery and 7 stents with congestive heart failure take TA-65 and benefit from it?

  6. Alan8 says

    “…my own telomeres have picked up 250 base pairs on TA-65 and the other supplements I take.”

    At which dose? The dosage is virtually never mentioned when people report quantitative results from TA-65, making it difficult to calculate how much to take.

  7. Anonymous says

    Can you comment on the possibility of improving multiple sclerosis using Ta you hav any suggestions or advice for multiple sclerosis and treatment?

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