The quest for eternal youth has been one that mankind has been fascinated by since ancient times. Life is short, but thanks to recent advances in anti-aging technology it may soon no longer be as short.
In September 2015, Elizabeth Parrish, the CEO of Bioviva USA underwent what is believed to be the first human gene therapy designed to reverse her biological age. While it’s still far too early to determine whether or not the experiment performed on her will be a success, early indications are very promising.
The gene therapy that Mrs. Parrish underwent was designed to lengthen her telomeres. What are telomeres? Telomeres are best described as a type of buffer in your DNA. When your DNA replicates and when a cell divides, it shortens a tiny amount each time. Telomeres are basically extra DNA fragments that serve no purpose except to keep your important DNA from being shortened during cell division.
Elizabeth Parrish was 44 years old when the experimental gene therapy was performed on her. At the time testing showed that her telomeres were abnormally short for her age, which meant that she was likely going to suffer from age related illnesses at a younger age than an average person.
Recent laboratory tests confirm that Elizabeth Parrish’s telomeres have lengthened substantially and now appear to be the same length as someone 20 years younger. Does this mean that Mrs. Parrish is now the equivalent of a 25 year old woman? Probably not, but the results of her recent tests indicate that she may now be able to avoid age related diseases for far longer than she would have prior to her gene therapy.
This remarkable telomere lengthening gene therapy is likely just the tip of the iceberg in anti-aging experiments that are on the horizon. As technology improves, there will certainly be more developments that can slow down aging, and perhaps one day in the not so distant future we will be able to stop aging all together. How this will impact society is a big question, and it’s one that may need to be addressed sooner rather than later. When people live longer there are financial concerns, and overpopulation is already a major problem without taking into account what would happen if people lived twice as long. While these are all major concerns, the potential positive impact of an extended lifespan makes these concerns a problem that is worth solving. The key to longer, healthier lives appears to be close to being found, giving humanity a chance to finally find that ever elusive fountain of youth.