I swear the copywriters have gotten a hold of the scientists. I say this because for the past 20 years I have been following scientific literature and I have never seen such a proliferation of pithy titles and witty tag lines to describe brute force dry science ever as I have recently. Not Ever!
The latest evidence of this comes to us by way of our friends from the University of Montreal who have found a way that telomerase, the enzyme that lengthens your telomeres, and the target of TA-65 gloms onto telomeres.
The dramatic “copywrity” statement has to do with DNA’s dark matter- that mysterious force we don’t understand yet. Trust me in 5 years it will be routine as daylight!
So what is the dark matter and what does it mean for YOUR telomeres?
Recall that short telomeres are thought by many to represent the true “biologic age” of the organism (person!) since they drive the cells to explode from the inside out (apoptosis) or to go into park and secret inflammatory chemicals (senescence). Much of what I have written to you about specific telomere testing is based on this. And it’s also the reason telomere tests that do not measure anything but mean telomere length are not all that valuable for a person trying to figure out where they stand. This is why I have done several of the Life length assays and will continue to recommend them to you.
Any way the folks in Montreal have found another regulatory molecule that brings telomerase to the telomere and concentrates it there where it needs to be to repair the telomere and insure genomic stability. That means the cells don’t blow up or secrete inflammatory chemicals!
If you remember the whole “short telomeres are bad” argument then you may remember at least one of the reasons we worry about them. Pick any one of these: cancer heart disease diabetes Alzheimer’s and arthritis and you have a clue!
What is really cool about this finding is that this particular molecule they have named TERRA is not a protein but a “non coding” RNA. Back in the day when you and I were studying biology in school we were taught that all RNA’s coded for proteins. As a result of the Human Genome Project and the more recent ENCODE study we now know that there are bunch of different RNA molecule classes that are involved in signaling, genomic rearrangement, and even paracrine and endocrine like activities (this is basically where they go from one cell to another and exert an influence on that cell almost like a hormone!).
This may not sound like much but it’s on the same level of magnitude epigenetics in that it shows us two huge things: we didn’t know squat for about 50 years after we discovered DNA.
1) The human genome is a lot more “flexible” then ol’ Gregor Mendel realized. 2) Thus genetics as it was taught to most of the people reading or in my case writing this blog was far from accurate or complete.
I guess it just sounds cooler if you call it “dark matter”!
I always think of this when I hear some professor or doctor saying they know something is right or wrong with absolute certainty. What about the dark matter doctor?!
So now we can add TERRA to the list of things that may be needed to pull telomerase to where it is needed, along with other molecules, in this case proteins with names like POT1 and TRP2. I should add that these proteins have an intimate relationship with stem cells so I am hoping the TERRA people look at stem cells next!
Maybe they will call it “light matter” there since stem cells and telomerase seem to be the very essence of human rejuvenation.
Finally just so you understand that even new discoveries are subject to “business as usual” and how totally differently I think than your average telomere scientist, my thought was, “Oh good now we may have another place to work on turning on telomerase and reversing or stopping the ravages of aging.”
The researchers in the study basically said, “Oh good now we have another way to interrupt telomerase and maybe create a new anti-cancer drug that Big Pharma will pay a gigantic price for! Hurrah! Another chance for a drug company payday!”
Sadly they don’t seem to read my comments about why telomerase inhibition is a faulty strategy to stop cancer!
It is unlikely we will ever be able to prevent cancer in everyone, so I totally understand the need for cancer research. But longer telomeres need to be taken far more seriously as a cancer preventative.
People are constantly asking me where is the science that proves we can “de age”. And they usually look at me like I have 3 heads when I tell them I am on telomerase activators, high dose fish oil and recently get my own purified mesenchymal stem cells reinjected. They scream, “There is no proof that anything you are doing is helping you!”
Well there is proof. Not as much as some people want for sure but the arrows are pointing in the direction I am going and if I am going to tell you about them, recommend them, and endorse them, then you can be damn sure I am going to DO THEM first on myself.
Why? Because I know what the alternative looks like. I have seen it as a doctor and a son and a brother. It’s ugly and scary and not fun. I may be doomed to that future but I don’t think so.
Either way I am not going down without a fight and I am not going to cower or stick my head in the sand while Father Time has afternoon tea with the Grim Reaper and plays Russian Roulette with my future.
Any risk I might take is worth it, and, by the time YOU hear about it from me (because the truth is the “other guys” are not willing to put their money where their mouth is!) you can believe it’s safe.
How can I give lectures and write books blogs and articles about living a better life if I don’t practice what I preach?