Note in Science page
Created Dec 29 08, Updated Sep 14 10 17:14
Chemical in Astragalus root prevents telomere shortening go to comments

Researchers from the UCLA AIDS Institute have found that a chemical from the plant Astragalus membranaceus root, frequently used in Chinese herbal therapy, can prevent or slow the progressive shortening of telomeres, which could make it a key weapon in the fight against HIV (where some T cells are driven into ~ exhaustion/senescence by over ~ stimulation/replication) and by extension – potentially – against aging.

Structure of parallel quadruplexes that can be formed by human telomeric DNAWikipedia )

[from Wikipedia article] “A telomere is a region of repetitive DNA” (TTAGGG x n in Vertebrates) “at the end of chromosomes, which protects the end of the chromosome from destruction.” “The telomere is a disposable buffer, which is consumed during cell division and is replenished by an enzyme: the telomerase (reverse transcriptase TERT).” “Human somatic cells lacking telomerase gradually lose telomeric sequences as a result of incomplete replication.”
This shortening of telomeres places a limit on the number of times that most body cells can divide, the so-called Hayflick limit.

In the study, immune cells drawn from people with HIV were treated with a telomerase activator (from Geron / TAsciences) – a simple extract from Astragalus root named “TAT2” (cycloastragenol, CAS Registry no. 84605-18-5). The treated cells killed viruses better, divided longer and acted more youthful.

As for telomerase activity role in aging: the latest evidence in mammals surfaced in a study from Spain: Mice that were bred to have enhanced levels of telomerase (through genetic engineering) lived 26% longer.
Now a simple plant extract can enhance telomerase activity!... Let the testing and patenting (and fighting) with the activator (and putative – more active, more easily patentable – chemical synthetic derivatives) begin…

jimmunol article [Telomerase-Based Pharmacologic Enhancement of Antiviral Function of Human CD8+ T Lymphocytes]
cell article [Telomerase Reverse Transcriptase Delays Aging in Cancer-Resistant Mice]
sciencedaily article
mentioned in newsweek article

Sept 2010:
A Natural Product Telomerase Activator As Part
of a Health Maintenance Program

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