Thursday, August 16, 2012

Forever Young: Telomere therapy promises perfect solution to aging

GHN — Not many people on this planet won’t be afraid of aging, particularly because with age comes disease as well as decline of our physical, psychological, and social functionality. Cosmetic surgeries have been making millions of dollars by serving people in looking younger. Yet, perhaps for the very first time, we have a therapy for not only looking young but being young naturally. A doctor in Florida is offering just that, and who won’t be thrilled? Meet Dr. Dirk Parvus, founder of the Parvus Center. Dr. Parvus is introducing his groundbreaking Telomere Therapy to people, which seems not only to slow aging but actually reverse it in people who are showing early signs of aging. In conversation with the Journal of Humanitarian Affairs, Dr. Parvus tells about aging and how his therapy works in slowing it down.

[caption id="attachment_16130" align="alignright" width="217"] Dr Dirk Parvus[/caption]

GHN: Dr. Parvus, thank you sparing us your precious time! Please tell our readers a little about aging, the way it happens naturally?

Dr. Parvus: After being born, we grow dramatically until age 20 when we plateau out until about age 30. This is our peak hormonal and metabolic time. After age 30, we start “senescence” which is the normal aging process where we loose 1-4 % of our capacity every year and develop the chronic inflammatory diseases of aging (Heart Disease, Stroke, Osteoporosis, i.e., Bone wasting, Sarcopenia or muscle wasting, Alzheimer’s etc).

Fifty years ago it was felt that we age and die due to the trauma of the environment on our bodies. Hayflick showed that actually our cells only replicate about 51 times and then they senesce and die and it was known as the “Hayflick Phenomenon”. We have now discovered that the ends of our DNA, called the Telomeres, shorten every time the somatic cell replicates until a certain critical length is reached when the cell stops replicating (senesces) and dies. This does not happen with certain cells like our Germ and stem cells. The enzyme Telomerase remains “switched on” and their Telomeres do not shorten and they are called “immortal” cells, as they can keep dividing and do not “age”.

GHN: What are some of the main factors that accelerate or slow down the aging process?

Dr. Parvus: There are certain genetic factors that tend to give a person longevity and we have identified certain markers such as HDL-Cholesterol, SHBG (Sex Hormone binding Globulin) etc which seem to be associated with longevity. After mapping the entire Human Genome we felt that we would discover the “gene” for each disease and would therefore be able to cure all the diseases. This did not happen and we are realizing the importance of “Epigenetics”. Our genes can be switched on and off by the environment. An example is the fact that “a calorie is not a calorie”. By that we mean calories from fast foods “turn on” far different genes than the same number of calories from vegetables and the effect on our bodies is vastly different. Food is information for our bodies and other factors such as sleep, exercise, stress, relationships, recreation, smoking, obesity etc directly affect the body and either increase or decrease our “speed” of aging  and studies are showing this relationship by the length of our Telomeres: shorter Telomeres = faster aging, and longer Telomeres = slower aging.

GHN: What are some of the notable types of therapies or treatments scientists have introduced for slowing or reversing aging prior to your Telomere Therapy?

Dr. Parvus: There is a company that tests about 4,000 substances daily looking for a Telomerase Activator (i.e., something that will switch on Telomerase, the enzyme that lengthens or prevents the telomere from shortening) To date, they have found one substance from the Astralagus plant of northern China called TA-64 (TA = Telomerase Activator) that has been shown to lengthen telomeres by switching on Telomerase. The lengthened telomeres will allow the cells to continue replicating and therefore live longer. There are anecdotal reports that the longer the telomere, the “younger” the cell acts. Prior to Telomere Therapy, we had no scientific way to actually increase one’s lifespan. Scientists showed that we could increase our “Healthspan” by the right kind of diet, exercise, and other healthy lifestyle habits; but could not affect our lifespan (longevity). In other words, we could slow the aging process, prevent diseases of aging, but could not reverse the aging process. There are people in the Telomere community that believe the first 1,000 year-old person is alive today as they feel better Telomerase activators will be developed and marketed in the future.

GHN: Now that sounds promising! So how does your therapy work?

Dr. Parvus: Currently we offer TA-65, the only known Telomerase Activator. A patient has blood tests to measure their average telomere length. Some blood is stored to use at a later date to compare and see whether their telomeres have lengthened and we have found that the telomeres lengthen on average 26% after 1-2 years of therapy. Obviously, patients are advised to adopt healthy lifestyles, use the right diet, nutraceuticals, exercise, and Bio-Identical Hormone optimization therapy to prevent the disease processes we discussed under “Epigenetics” above, because if you are planning to live longer, you would want to be healthy to enjoy the added years. It has not yet been determined how long one would need to continue therapy. As the telomere is “switched off”, I believe if we stop using Telomerase Activator, our telomeres will start to shorten again.

GHN: Are there any known side-effects of Telomere Therapy? And what kind of preventive measures do you suggest for patients?

Dr. Parvus: There are no known side-effects to Telomere Therapy and ongoing investigations are being conducted to monitor for them. The obvious concern that cancer cells also have active Telomerase and could Telomere therapy cause increased risk of cancer has been refuted by the scientists in Telomere research and they claim the opposite is true as the lengthened telomeres support the Immune System and actually would be protective against cancer. There are studies ongoing to prove these hypotheses. The preventative measures we recommend are an active Age Management Program as I described above including diet, exercise, nutraceuticals and Bio-identical Hormones.

GHN: I think there has to be an age range in which people can seek Telomere Therapy. Is it?

Dr. Parvus: Our Telomeres continue to shorten as our cells replicate, therefore therapy could theoretically be started at an early age. When we are conceived, we have approximately 20,000 base pairs in our telomeres. By the time we are born, due to the rapid replication in-utero, we are born with approximately 10,000 base pairs; and when the base pairs get to about 5,000, the cell stops replicating. Currently, a young adult 30-40 years old would take one pill a day (depending on their measured telomere length); older adults 50-60 years of age, 2 pills a day; and over 60 years, the “full” dose of 4 pills a day. The limiting factor is the high cost of the TA-65.

GHN: Please tell us a case or two of your patients you have treated so far and the results? Also, do you measure the progress of patients using some special indicators?

Dr. Parvus: My patients (and I) have shown about 26% lengthening of out Telomeres after 1-2 years of therapy. Some have reported needing lower-powered reading glasses instead of higher-powered ones as time passed. Some had improved hairlines (hair re-growth) and reported improved athletic performance (reduced times for their runs). Other things reported by patients on TA-65 are increased strength, libido, and feeling of well-being.

GHN: Is your therapy available to patients based in Florida or do you receive patients from across the states?

Dr. Parvus: My therapy is available to anyone, anywhere, and I recommend the blood testing for Telomere Length and a blood kit could be sent to distant patients who could get it drawn at a local lab. I would also recommend enrolling in an Age Management program to maintain and improve their current health and prevent the disease process already underway in their current lifestyles. This would require an initial Executive Health Evaluation at our office, but discussion of Lab results and changes every few months could be done telephonically. I am available for a confidential, no-obligation, no-cost consultation either by telephone or in person at my office for anyone interested in either the Telomere Therapy or the age management program. I highly recommend interested people read The Immortality Edge by Michael Fossel MD, PhD, who discusses telomeres in detail, or Suzanne Somers in her latest book Bombshellalso has a chapter on telomeres and discusses age management too.

I can be reached at my office 772-564-7887 or via email

GHN: One more question is whether you write or speak about health, or aging in particular.

Dr. Parvus: I lecture on Heath and Aging, and have not published anything yet. I have put a lot of the core information on my website

GHN: Dr. Parvus, thank you very much for participating in this interview and sharing your research!

Dr. Parvus: You are very welcome.