HGH as a cure for aging
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Scientists from the American research organization Intervene Immune have found a way to reverse aging with the help of somatotropin (growth hormone).
The study was published in the journal Aging Cell.
The researchers did not plan to create a cure for aging — they only wanted to find out how safe it is to use growth hormone to repair the tissues of the thymus gland, in which the maturation, differentiation and immunological "training" of T-cells of the immune system takes place. After the onset of puberty, it significantly atrophies and becomes overgrown with fat, its additional decrease occurs with aging. This is partly associated with a decrease in immunity in the elderly.
Earlier studies have shown that with the help of growth hormone, it is possible to start the regeneration of the thymus gland.
The effect of growth hormone, the study's lead author, immunologist Gregory Fahey, had previously tested on himself. In 1986, he became interested in an experiment in which rats were transplanted cells that produce growth hormone, and this rejuvenated their immune system. Surprised that no one else was developing this topic and conducting clinical studies, 10 years later, when he turned 46, Fahey set up an experiment on himself. Since growth hormone can contribute to the development of diabetes mellitus, at the same time Fahey took the antidiabetic drug dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). The experiment lasted a month, according to its results Fahey noted the regeneration of his own thymus gland.
In a new study, nine men aged 51-65 received growth hormone and two diabetic drugs, DHEA and metformin, for a year. The latter, by the way, is being actively tested as a drug-protector against age-related diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases, but so far there is not enough data to declare its unconditional benefits for people without diabetes.
However, it is known that it is able to slow down the aging of human cells — at least in vitro.
Scientists regularly took blood samples from the subjects and monitored the condition of the thymus gland using MRI. By the end of the study, it had significantly regenerated in seven participants.
After completing the study, Fahey turned to geneticist Steve Horvath, who had previously developed the most famous epigenetic clock. Epigenetics studies changes in the activity of genes in which the DNA structure remains the same. A clock is a collection of epigenetic DNA tags that allows you to determine the biological age of a tissue, cell or organ. With their help, the changes that occurred in the body of the subjects were evaluated.
The analysis of epigenetic changes showed that the biological age of the participants decreased by 2.5 years.
Scientists have also found signs of rejuvenation in the immune system. This result surprised even the scientists themselves.
"I expected the clock to slow down, but it wouldn't go in the opposite direction," Horvath says. —It all looked pretty futuristic."
Due to the small number of participants and the absence of a control group, researchers have not yet undertaken to draw far-reaching conclusions about the results obtained.
"Maybe there really is an effect," notes cell biologist Wolfgang Wagner. "But the results cannot be called reliable, because the sample was very small and the work was carried out without a control group."
It is not known how long-term the effect will be, but it remained in six subjects who provided samples of their blood six months after the study.
We saw changes in each of the participants, and the effect was very strong, so I'm optimistic," says Horvath.
Scientists plan to conduct a larger study, including not only men, but also women of different ages and nationalities. Fahey notes that the possibility of regeneration of the thymus gland is especially important for people with an insufficiently active immune system, including the elderly — one of the main causes of death for people over 70 years old is pneumonia and other infectious diseases.