In socially and technologically developed countries, the main cause of death is aging. The scientific explanation behind the process of aging revolves around the telomeres.
These telomeres are short segments of DNA which mark the ends of every chromosome, playing a significant role against cellular and genetic wear and tear. In time, they shorten with each cell division, finally becoming too short to protect the chromosome, leading the cell to malfunction and the body to age. As a conclusion, it seems logic that if we find a way to manipulate and sustain the integrity of these telomeres, it would obviously greatly impact the human life span, avoiding the inevitable cellular aging process.
Even with the modern day’s technology, people suffering from various aging disorders have little to no benefits from therapeutics. Additionally, the ever-changing lifestyle also has a bad influence on the result of treating these diseases. The best solution seems to have come from the field of biotechnology as we are on the brink of making a life changing discovery.
The audacious idea that aging is just another curable disease is radical, and it wasn’t even being considered 20 years ago. Daring minds like Craig Venter who sequenced the first genome, recently founded Human Longevity Inc., an anti-aging startup. Another similar project belongs to Google, the highly secretive anti-aging startup Calico.
The first human being to become subject to the genetic experiments was Elizabeth Parish, the CEO of BioViva Inc., the same company which stated it was on the verge of the groundbreaking innovation.
The treatment took place in September 2015, consisting in two experimental gene therapies: one aiming at the protection against loss of muscle mass with age, and the other experiment would battle stem cell depletion which is the main cause of age-related diseases.
Initially, the therapy was intended to prove the high safety level of the next generation of therapies which was tested at first on mice and cultured cells, successfully lengthening telomeres. But if the first results are accurate, Elizabeth Parish was already the first human patient to benefit from the avant-garde therapy.
Before initiating the experimental therapeutics, telomere data was taken from Elizabeth Parrish’s white blood cells (leukocytes) in a specialized clinic in Houston, Texas. The first analysis revealed that Parrish’s telomeres were uncommonly short for her age, making her extremely vulnerable to age-related illnesses later in life.
Since the therapeutics are on an early stage, BioViva will keep monitoring Parrish’s blood cells for the next years, while testing new gene and combination gene therapies to repair the damage related to old age.
Although confident, scientists will have to wait and see whether the breakthrough in relation to the leukocytes can be extended to other tissues and organs, for every future patient. Until then, a deeper research will be continuously conducted within the blood cells of “patient zero” of restorative gene therapy.
Since their first gene therapy injections, BioViva has earned global interest from both the scientific and investment communities. BioViva Inc. received full support from the company of Deep Knowledge Life Sciences (DKLS), a London-based investment fund which aims to accelerate the development of biotechnologies for increased longevity.
Dmitry Kaminskiy, founding partner of DKLS, put a lot of faith in the BioViva’s potential to take crucial steps in the human gene therapy research, while leapfrogging companies in the biotech market.
Based in Delaware, BioViva Inc. engages in intramural and extramural peer-reviewed research, in order to create marketable therapies for treating age-related disorders and infirmities, such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, heart diseases, cancer, sarcopenia (loss of skeletal muscle mass) and kidney failure, all treatment occurring at the level of the genome.
By combining the two therapies, BioViva USA, Inc. has begun treating a human patient using gene therapy intended to reverse the aging process, becoming the first company to do so. It was officially reported that the subject has already resumed their normal activities and shows signs of well being. The patient is going to be evaluated routinely, with more conclusions to come that are expected to be revealed after one yea.