But I will remind you that cancer has a nasty and unique ability to amplify telomerase expression in just about every way you could imagine, recombination, gene amplification, mutation and more. This is “cancer’s fault”! It does not mean that telomerase causes cancer as I have said a thousand different ways and a thousand different times.
I will also remind you that this has absolutely nothing to do with TA-65!
Currently studies from Maria Blasco’s lab suggest that we can amplify telomerase more or less continuously for at least a year at a 10 fold level without increasing the incidence of cancer. That particular study showed a 25% increase in the life span of middle aged subjects (mice) and 13% in geriatric mice that were basically already hitting their maximum life span. Remember Dr Blasco disabused the world of a myth- that mice do not age like people e.g. they do not age by telomere loss. That in fact is not true as she showed- they DO age by telomere loss specifically the accumulation of higher and higher percentages of short telomeres.
Her studies were ground breaking because they showed mice as ideal models for human aging surrogates and, that telomerase activation was the only current way to extent life span in mammals.
This came in the wake of the calorie restriction studies in monkeys being shown as flawed which ultimately undermined the stance that CR works in mammals at least for the moment. And of course there was the DePinho study where mouse aging was actually reversed by telomerase activation.
Because Dr DePinho used a common trigger, the drug tamoxifen as the off on switch some anti-aging docs wrongly interpreted this to mean that bioidentical hormone replacement lengthens your telomeres. There is not one study that shows that although there are lots of reasons to consider hormone replacement! Same thing for men and testosterone.
Earlier( 2010) there was the peer reviewed TA-65 study in Rejuvenation Research which showed multiple improvements in health parameters in real live free living people, and as I have mentioned before there is a study that was started this past May in Barcelona which is randomized double blinded placebo controlled in people taking TA-65.
There is some interesting research though on telomerase and cancer, sort of. By sort of I mean that it is not directly relating to telomerase but to cancer.
First a study identified the specific region or “protein motif” where telomerase binds to the telomere. This is for all intents and purposes the “gate keeper” portion of telomerase that allows it to bind directly to the telomere and start making it longer. Of course the first words out of the researchers mouths had to do with the Big Pharma payday they expect to get if they can exploit this by “making a drug that might inhibit cancer”.
I will say this much: That drug better be very very specifically targeted to cancer cells only or its going to play havoc with the rest of the immune system and the stem cell population. Geron’s drug Imetelstat while brilliantly conceived by some very smart people has not panned out and actually looked like it made the cancer worse. Now a lot of this may have been due to poor patient selection when choosing who got the treatment but the sad fact is cancer figures out lots of ways to tenaciously survive these kinds of things while non cancerous normal cells do not. I stand by my original statements: non targeted telomerase inhibition is a bad idea!
The good news is that it (the telomerase binding domain) can be used in the reverse and when the enough momentum and public desire for anti-aging telomerase activation happens and the profit margin gets big enough without the financial risk ( in other words when someone else does the hard work) Big Pharma will surely swoop in and capitalize. Then we will have the world’s first telomerase activating drug. Unless Google’s new anti-aging company beats them to it!
Another thing that you may be aware of is that some viruses cause cancer. Recently an inherited Herpes Virus (HHV6A +B) was found to integrate into the telomere. When it “comes out” it apparently destabilizes the telomere and the rest of the genome and at the very least shortens the life span of the affected cells.
This is the first time I have ever seen documentation of a specific virus integrate directly into telomere DNA which is very different than the rest of the genome where other viruses often hide. While no one is sure what this means and there is not a direct relationship to cancer, there is a spectrum of associations of HHV6 with childhood Roseola or “6th disease” being the most common. There is speculation about Chronic Fatigue and MS as well.
The bottom line is something you already knew: destruction of telomeres and shortening thereof can have serious consequences. Sickness aging and death are among them!
That is why I am constantly harping on you to “Take Care of Your Telomeres!”
Citation: Michael Harkisheimer, Mark Mason, Elena Shuvaeva, Emmanuel Skordalakes, ‘A Motif in the Vertebrate Telomerase N-Terminal Linker of TERT Contributes to RNA Binding and Telomerase Activity and Processivity’, Structure September 19 2013 DOI:10.1016/j.str.2013.08.013