We’ve heard about an anti-ageing pill for years now – a pill that could miraculously cure all our ills and stop the inevitable degeneration of our bodies. Now, one doctor and medical researcher, Michael Fossel has revealed that it could be closer than we think.
The world’s population is getting older and living longer, posing one of the greatest issues of all time – how can we make life easier and ensure quality of life? Health and aged care are huge sectors for the ageing population, and need to be addressed. That’s where the anti-ageing pill comes in. If we can stop problems from occurring, we won’t need there to be millions of over 60s in care, in hospitals or doctors’ waiting rooms.
Dr Fossels new book, The Telomerase Revolution, argues that enough information has been acquired about the cause of ageing to be able to reverse it. Imagine if diseases such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease and osteoporosis could be cured rather than coped with…
A recent WHO report on ageing and health has encouraged stopping finding cures for age-related health issues and instead learn to live with them. It also said that illnesses of old age can be “prevented or delayed by engaging in healthy behaviours” and that “physical activity and good nutrition can have powerful benefits for health and wellbeing” – there is no evidence that diseases such as Alzheimer’s can be prevented in that way.
When The Times asked Dr Fossel what he thought of the WHO report, he replied: “In 1950 we could have talked (and did) about ‘active polio’ in the sense of keeping polio victims active rather than giving up, but the very phrase itself implies that one has already given up. I would prefer that we cure the fundamental problem. Why talk about ‘active ageing’, ‘successful ageing’, and ‘healthy ageing’ when we could talk about not ageing?”
According to The Times, Dr Fossel is one of the pioneers of research into the clinical use of telomerase, an enzyme that causes certain kinds of cell to be effectively immortal.
Telomerase resets the activity level of genes so that each life starts young. The six-letter word TTAGGG is repeated 15,000 times on each chromosome tip in most of your cells when you are a baby but only 8,000 times when you are old – it is this shortening that is the primary cause of ageing.
Dr Fossel’s book discusses this phenomenon and explains the connection between all the chronic diseases of ageing. All it takes now, says Dr Fossel, is to work out how to boost telomerase in our cells in a safe way.
His company, Telocyte, is trialling the process on people with Alzheimer’s. It is hope that one day in the future, people could take a course of pills or injections to reverse dementia, Parkinson’s, heart disease or osteoporosis, and people in their nineties could live authentic healthy lives, as if they were 50.
For now, as scientists race to find the first true anti-ageing pill, all we can do is eat a balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and participate in regular physical activity.
Tell us, if there were an anti-ageing pill, would you take it? Or would you rather let life run its course?