Reversing the Aging Process

In a new study published in Aging on November 18, 2020, researchers at Tel Aviv University and Shamir Medical Center in Israel indicated that hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT) can reverse the aging process in healthy aging adults by stopping the aging of blood cells. Biologically speaking, the blood cells actually grow younger as the treatment continues.

Shortening of the telomeres at the ends of chromosomes and the accumulation of old cells in the body are the two major processes linked with aging and its associated illnesses. The study showed that a unique protocol of HBOT treatments can reverse these processes, with the telomeres increasing in length by up to 38 percent, and the presence of senescent cells decreasing by about 37 percent.

The trial was conducted as part of a research program targeting aging as a reversible condition. According to its leader, Prof. Shai Efrati, “For many years our team has been engaged in hyperbaric research and therapy treatments…In the current study, we wished to examine the impact of HBOT on healthy and independent aging adults, and to discover whether such treatments can slow down, stop, or even reverse the normal aging process at the cellular level.”

Thirty-five healthy individuals aged 64 or over were exposed to a series of 60 hyperbaric sessions over 90 days. Blood samples before, during, and at the end of the treatments, as well as some time after the treatments, were provided by the participants. The researchers then analyzed various immune cells in the blood and compared the results. The findings showed that the telomeres grew longer instead of shorter for the different cell types at a rate of 20%-38%; and the percentage of senescent cells, overall, was reduced significantly by 11%-37%.

Prof. Efrati explained that, currently, researchers are trying to develop pharmacological and environmental interventions that enable telomere elongation, because telomere shortening is considered to be the ‘holy grail’ of the biology of aging. He stated that their HBOT protocol was able to prove that the aging process can be reversed at the cellular-molecular level. Another researcher in the team, Dr. Amir Hadanny, added that, only three months of HBOT were able to elongate telomeres at much faster rates that any currently available interventions or lifestyle modifications.

References:
1. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases telomere length and decreases immunosenescence in isolated blood cells: a prospective trial. Aging, November 18, 2020, https://doi.org/10.18632/aging.202188
2. Science Daily, November 20, 2020, https://bit.ly/3g14JOI

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