Forget the Holy Grail, it seems humans can actually live forever by just relying on a simple enzyme.
New clinical trials have suggested a male hormone, Danazol, could be the “elixir of youth” as it is capable of reversing ageing in cells.
The New England Journal of Medicine published the research, which found that the production of the Telomerase enzyme, which stops cells from ageing, could be induced in a laboratory by giving patients prescription steroids.
Rodrigo Calado, Professor at the Medical School, explains how ageing is measured by the team: “One of the processes associated with aging is the progressive shortening of telomeres - the DNA protecting structures at the end of chromosomes.
“Each time a cell divides, the telomeres (ends) of chromosomes get shorter and eventually, the cell can’t replicate anymore and dies.”
The Telomerase enzyme is able to repair these telomeres so that they do not become progressively shorter as they split and duplicate. Meaning that cells do not degenerate and “age” in the same way.
Telomarase is naturally found in the human body, but now the Brazilian scientists have shown that taking steroids can restart production on command.
If patients take a synthetic male hormone, Danazol, telomere length was shown to increase by 386 base pairs on average over two years.
“On completion of the protocol, the medication was interrupted, and we observed a fall in all counts. Several patients resumed the medication with smaller doses, individually adjusted to minimize side effects,” Calado said.
Calado hopes these findings will help those with aplastic anemia, a disease caused by a deficiency of this enzyme.