Does the Fountain of Youth Lie With Lengthening Our Telomeres?

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The Fountain of Youth was a mythical spring that would make you young again if you bathed in it or drank from it. While now, the myth is ridiculous, but, is there any other way of making us young again? Does the Fountain of Youth still exist in some other form?

There is a story out of Israel that, “Hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases telomere length and decreases immunosenescence in isolated blood cells.”

In essence what they did was place a group of people, 64 and older, in a hyperbaric chamber for a few hours each day for 60 daily sessions. The hyperbaric chamber was set at a pressure of three atmospheres. They then proceeded to give the test group 100% oxygen to breath in while they were in the hyperbaric chamber.

The administrators of the study at the 30, and 60 day marks during the experiment as well as 1-2 weeks after the study had completed, studied the length of patients’ telomeres as well as senescent cell, end of life cells that would no longer divide and multiply.

“Telomeres length of T helper, T cytotoxic, natural killer and B cells increased significantly by over 20% following Hyperbaric oxygen therapy. In other words the increase in telomere length could be a sign that the cells are getting younger, that they will be able to divide and multiply more than if the subject had not been involved in the hyperbaric oxygen therapy sessions. Senescent cells also decrease in the blood, cells that are no longer able to divide and multiply.”

What does this all mean? Does lengthening telomeres and eliminating senescent cells turn back the biological clock?

While this study is very intriguing it remains too early to tell what effect this has on aging in humans. That said it gave me an idea to test this hypothesis out.

Mice are used throughout experiments in science nowadays. You can get them from the same lineage, born on the same day, estimated to live the same amount, etc. For us, we need mice with all of the above.

We need to build a hyperbaric chamber that can withstand 3 atmospheres of pressure with 100% oxygen inside since the mice cannot breath through a nasal cannula.

On the other hand we need a near identical chamber for mice to live in who are not taking part in the hyperbaric chamber experiment and will be breathing normal atmospheric concentrations of oxygen.

Here is the big test, will mice who are in hyperbaric chambers breathing 100% oxygen live longer than mice who are otherwise living in identical conditions? Mice live on average 12 – 18 months. If the mice in the hyperbaric chamber live significantly longer that would go a long way in proving that hyperbaric chamber oxygen therapy really works to extend life. If it works with mice there is a decent chance it will work with humans too.

So I guess now I need to get my hands on a hyperbaric chamber…

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