All living creatures eventually wither and die There is no escape from death and taxes, they say But that doesn't mean aging can't be slowed down In fact, researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel went further, showing in a new study that weekly hyperbaric oxygen sessions reversed a key process known to be involved in cellular aging.

Every day, every hour, each second, one of the most important events in life takes place in your body: cells are dividing right now, as you read this sentence, somewhere the cells are dividing, but each replication has a cost

Telomeres cap and protect the ends of chromosomes from degradation, making sure our DNA is copied correctly when cells divide Due to the way DNA replication is done in eukaryotic cells (it's us!), These telomeres get shorter with each cell replication At some point, telomeres, that you can imagine as the caps of a lace, shorten to a critical limit Just as a lace without a cap will untangle and ruin the fabric, severely shortened telomeres will trigger cell division dysfunction, also known as senescence Over time, the accumulation of these senescent cells is considered to be one of the main causes of aging

Studies have linked shortened telomeres not only to aging but also to cancer as such, the processes that regulate telomeres have been targeted by all kinds of experimental therapies designed to slow aging. Of particular interest is an enzyme called telomerase, which appears to have the ability to regenerate lost sections of the telomere – at least it does so in tissues with a high turnover of new cells, like the lining of the intestine. Some groups consider telomerase gene therapy to be primarily a form of regenerative medicine, however, these therapies have not been validated due to the small number of participants so far

And Israel, researchers led by Shair Efrati, doctor of the Faculty of Medicine and Sagol School of Neuroscience of Tel Aviv University, have taken a different path to improve telomere health Their therapy involves breathing pure oxygen into a pressurized chamber with high pressure levels 15 at 3 times higher than average

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The procedure, known as hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), by no means a novelty For over a century, it has been used to treat deep sea divers with decompression sickness or people who have been poisoned with carbon monoxide.

In a clinical trial, 35 healthy adults aged 64 years and more have passed 90 minutes in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, who saturated their blood with oxygen Participants repeated this experiment once a week for three months

Blood samples were taken before treatment and during the trial one month apart, as well as two weeks after the end of the test. Striking fact, at the end of the test, participants' telomeres not only showed no shortening, they actually stretched out 20% Participants also experienced a significant drop in the number of senescent helper T cells, showing that extended telomeres can reverse some aging, the authors reported in the journal Aging

As a warning, the main limitation of the study is the small sample size In addition, the duration of the effect of the therapy has not yet been determined in long-term follow-ups But all things considered, these are promising results, showing that a relatively simple and readily available form of therapy could one day partially reverse aging – and maybe even extend our lifespan.

Until such therapy is confirmed, the best thing you can do to preserve your telomeres is to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly

Tibi is a science journalist and co-founder of ZME Science He writes mainly on emerging technologies, physics, climate and space In his free time, Tibi enjoys making weird music on his computer and grooming felines

Aging, telomeres, cells, oxygen therapy, research

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