A Cure for Old Age. (And AIDS.) From Chinese Medicine…

It sure sounds too good to be true, but New Scientist is talking about new UCLA research on astralagus, a plant that’s almost as widely used as ginseng in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Apparently, this real-life “ancient Chinese remedy” does some interesting things to our chromosomes:

In the latest work, Effros took killer T-cells from HIV-infected people and exposed them to TAT2. Developed by Geron Corporation of Menlo Park, California, TAT2 is a drug extracted from the root of a plant called Astragalus that is thought to boost telomerase production and is traditionally used in Chinese medicine as a boost for the immune system.

She found that TAT2 reduced telomere shortening, increased cells’ ability to divide, and enhanced their antiviral activity.

This effect was blocked when a second drug was used to inhibit telomerase, suggesting that TAT2 was indeed working through the enzyme – although the exact mechanism is not understood.

Aubrey de Grey of the Methuselah Foundation, which promotes research into lifespan extension, says the study is a big step forward.

“It is what we would have hoped,” he says. “We’ve thought for some time that, by activating telomerase in these cells, we could extend their proliferative capacity. What was completely unclear was whether that would [have negative side effects]. These cells become fully functional as a result of the restoration of their proliferative capacity.”

I don’t know if it’ll also cure the blues, but if you’re young and healthy, what have you got to be blue about?

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. The Guild of Scientific Troubadours » Give me LIFE, my scientists! LIFE!

Comments are closed.