The Telomerase Revolution

The Telomerase Revolution

The Enzyme That Holds the Key to Human Aging ... and Will Soon Lead to Longer, Healthier Lives

Book - 2015
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"Science is on the cusp of a revolutionary breakthrough. We now understand more about aging-and how to prevent and reverse it-than ever before. In recent years, our understanding of the nature of aging has grown exponentially, and dramatic life extension-even age reversal-has moved from science fiction to real possibility. Dr. Michael Fossel has been in the forefront of aging research for decades and is the author of the definitive textbook on human aging. In The Telomerase Revolution, he takes us on a detailed but highly accessible scientific journey, providing startling insights into the nature of human aging. Twenty years ago, there was still considerable debate of the nature of human aging, with a variety of competing theories in play. But scientific consensus is forming around the telomere theory of aging. The essence of this theory is that human aging is the result of cellular aging. Every time a cell reproduces, its telomeres (the tips of the chromosomes) shorten. With every shortening of the telomeres, the cell's ability to repair its molecules decreases. It ages. Human aging is the result of the aging of the body's trillions of cells. But some of our cells don't age. Sex cells and stem cells can reproduce indefinitely, without aging, because they create telomerase. Telomerase re-lengthens the telomeres, keeping these cells young. The Telomerase Revolution describes how telomerase will soon be used as a powerful therapeutic tool, with the potential to dramatically extend life spans and even reverse human aging. Telomerase-based treatments are already available, and have shown early promise, but much more potent treatments will become available over the next decade. The Telomerase Revolution is the definitive work on the latest science on human aging, covering both the theory and the clinical implications. It takes the reader to the forefront of the upcoming revolution in human medicine"--
Publisher: Dallas, Texas : BenBella Books, Inc., [2015]
ISBN: 9781941631690
Branch Call Number: 612.67 FOSSEL
Characteristics: xvi, 223 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm


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Nov 26, 2017

Fossel makes grand statements: “within the next decades ... mean human lifespan may … move into the range of several centuries… The notion of healthy human lifespans in the range of … 500 years is an entirely rational point for argument…” However, Fossel is a very serious scientist. The book is outstanding on several counts.
First, it does explain the telomere theory of aging: “ cells divide, telomeres shorten, gene expression changes, cellular repair and recycling slow down, errors slowly accumulate, and cells fail.” Later he states: “Age-related diseases occur when telomere shortening exposes our genetic flaws.”
Fossel defines an equation that calculates the % of cells that are damaged as the result of shortened telomeres. And, the key is that as telomeres shorten, the cellular replacement rate drops resulting in a rising share of dysfunctional surviving cells. He states: “… cells have a ... diminishing rate of turnover, so that an increasingly higher percentage don’t function well.”
This definition of aging at the cellular level explains aging and related diseases including cardiovascular diseases, cancers, Parkinson, and AD.
Fossel demonstrates an encyclopedic understanding of the known mechanics of numerous diseases he addresses in the book. He categorizes them in two categories:
1) Direct Aging, these are diseases (i.e. cancer, osteoporosis, AIDS, macular degeneration) that are directly impacted by the dividing cells whose dividing mechanism slows down due to telomeres shortening: and
2) Indirect Aging, these are diseases such as cardiovascular disease, AD, and Parkinson’s that are related to cells that do not divide but that are dependent on other cells that do divide and are vulnerable to the shortening of telomeres.
His advice on exercise, nutrition, vitamin supplements are informative. They have a relativist angle. Good behavioral habits can avoid the accelerating of aging associated with bad habits (smoking, heavy drinking, sedentary lifestyle, etc.). But, they can’t stop or reverse aging.
Regarding exercises, Fossel recommends low shock exercises and avoiding repetitive injuries. “If you injure yourself repeatedly, you will age a lot faster.”
Nevertheless, the book appears to have a few contradictions or at least questionable statements.
On page 14, Fossel states that 97% of Alzheimer’s (AD) cases are not readily identified by genetic make up. Yet, in the glossary he does mention that a specific gene ApoE4 is associated with an elevated risk of AD. And, 25% of the population does have one or two copies of that gene. And, the respective risk of getting AD by 85 is about 25% or more vs. less than 10% for individuals without such gene. Just Bayesian math based on the figures above would indicate that for the population of 85 year olds, this one gene accounts for over 45% of all AD cases (instead of less than 3% according to Fossel). If you look at earlier age cut offs, the AD propensity accounted by the Apo E4 gene is greater than the 45% calculated for the 85 year-old crowd.
Also, the last chapter is somewhat contradictory. On one hand he does make grand statements indicating that he seems to have little doubt we could soon double our average lifespan within a couple of decades. But, when he actually describes the current state of the telomerase therapy, the current results are far less convincing. You get the sense that we may not double our lifespan and/or live for a few centuries until… a few centuries from now if ever.


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