The seven most common age-related symptoms include dullness of the skin, the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, uneven skin tone, dry skin, blotches and age spots, visible pores and rough texture of the skin. Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Public Health have come up with interesting research accidentally on aging.
Professor Steve Horvath set out his research in order to know if he could restore the function of the thymus gland or not. However, he found a way of reversing the various biological age-related symptoms.
The team received funding from Intervene Immune, Inc. This company’s main aim is to reverse the marker of aging and thymic involution.
Drug for restoring thymus gland shows positive results for reversing biological aging
The research was a two-year plan where the team began its work in 2015. In this, researchers found that there is a possibility of reducing the age-related symptoms including the diseases. The reason behind the age-related diseases mainly lies in the poor working of the immune system.
The findings appear in the journal Aging Cell. Thymus is a gland that lies between the lungs. It is mainly responsible for the maturation of the T cells. However, the gland starts shrinking with age and becomes less active.
Other studies support the notion that the shrinking of thymus gland leads to a change in the number of immune cell contents when people hit their 60’s.
In the study paper, the author explains, “[t]hymic involution leads to the depletion of critical immune cell populations, […] and is linked to age‐related increases in cancer incidence, infectious disease, autoimmune conditions, generalized inflammation, atherosclerosis, and all‐cause mortality.”
This is what triggered the researchers to conduct their first trial – TRIIM (Thymus Regeneration, Immunorestoration, and Insulin Mitigation).
The analysis of the results showed that the drugs which they used for restoring thymus gland also showed its amazing effects on reversing various aging symptoms.
rhGH and DHEA turn back the biological clocks of participants
Biological age does not typically refer to one’s conventional age but the age of biological mechanisms. The epigenetic clocks show the changes in the gene expression with time.
Professor Horvath and his team selected 10 male participants aged 51-65. However, researchers were only able to track nine of the ten participants.
The authors write, “Although, on average, trial volunteer epigenetic ages were lower than their chronological ages at baseline, epigenetic age was nevertheless significantly decreased by treatment […], with a mean change in [the difference between the epigenetic age and chronological age] after 12 months of about 2.5 years.”
In order to explain their hypothesis, they began with recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH). rhGH alone plays an important role in normal cell growth and regeneration.
Pre-existing studies also show that rhGH holds a pivotal position in restoring the function of the thymus gland. Researchers conducted this study on HIV patients where their immune health was deteriorating.
After 1 week of the trial, researchers used a mix of rhGH, DHEA and metformin. DHEA-dehydroepiandrosterone is a steroid hormone while metformin is a drug which plays a role in increasing insulin sensitivity.
During the study, researchers conducted blood tests, epigenetic age tests and MRI imaging to track the progress of the trial. The analysis of the results showed that the researchers’ hypothesis proved right. The mixture of DHEA, metformin, and rhGH together improved the condition of the thymus gland in the ’60s.
Not only this, but the researchers also found that the trial also helped in turning back the biological clocks of the participants. Despite the fruitful results, researchers do not support the trial for public use. Researchers hope and aim to repeat the trial to a larger cohort to further verify the results.