Most great scientific discoveries seem to happen by accident.
Insulin was discovered because ants were attracted to dog urine where the dogs were diabetic for example.
It seems to have happened again. Scientists were trying to figure out how to restore the thymus but may have stumbled into a way to reverse our biological aging.
The thymus gland is located between the lungs. It matures our T-lymphocytes or T-cells. T-cells are vital for your immune system and a vital part of your white blood cells.
It’s what causes your growth spurt during adolescence. It was thought to turn into a blob of fat after adolescence is over.
The T-cells are vital to a healthy immune system. When they are low you are much more vulnerable to certain types of cancers and infections.
Thankfully for most people, the thymus does its work and slowly wastes away.
But Dr. Steve Horvath from UCLA wanted to see if he could restore the thymus using a chemical cocktail of three drugs.
When he did follow up with the people in the trial, he found they were on average 2.5 years biologically younger than they were before they took the drugs.
It also rejuvenated the participant’s immune system.
Dr. Horvath told Nature:
“I’d expected to see slowing down of the clock, but not a reversal. That felt kind of futuristic.”
While this study only included 10 participants and is only considered preliminary, this opens a whole new area in our battle against aging.
It was particularly striking that it affected every participant in the study.
This is the first time that scientists were able to reverse aging.
Aging is measured using what is called the epigenetic clock. This is a complex formula using several biomarkers which are important for maintaining the function of your genes.
In other words, as you get older your body starts to break down and fall apart because your genetic code starts getting mudded.
The ten study participants were healthy men from 51-65.
The participants were given a form of human growth hormone to start. Then they received a testosterone hormone precursor called DHEA and then the diabetes drug metformin.
The researchers found that they could indeed restore the thymus using these three drugs.
But what was shocking was just how much the combo reversed aging.
Dr. Horvath is a geneticist known for his highly accurate readings of epigenetic clocks. Dr. Horvath studied the blood samples of the participants and found that the men were “younger” than they were at the start and had an increased life expectancy.
It is not as if the study participants were hurting before the study began. They were healthy and biologically younger than their chronological age suggested.
But it was significant that their biological age started to reduce the longer the study went on. After a year it was as if their internal clock went backward 2.5 years.
Imagine what it would be like if your next birthday you felt younger, not older.
You would be better able to fight cold, flu, pneumonia as wells as being stronger and more vigorous.
Hopefully, this study will be followed up soon with a larger trial. Since all the drugs are approved by the FDA it could be on the market in the next few years and not decades.