In a first-of-its-kind study, scientists believe they have succeeded in reversing the aging process of elderly individuals through “oxygen therapy”.
Through the use of hyperbaric oxygen chambers, Tel Aviv University researchers have been able to pinpoint and focus on certain cells and DNA strands that are linked to shorter lifespans.
35 patients were asked to breathe pure oxygen in a pressurized medical setting to test whether this form of therapy was capable of reversing aging effects for people over 64 years of age.
Patients rested in these chambers for 90 minutes a day for five days a week over 3 months. Researchers studied the results on senescent cells, which are responsible for tissue and organ deterioration, and telomeres, which are molecules linked to premature cellular aging.
Following these tests, researchers found incredible data identifying that telomeres grew an average of 20% while senescent cells decreased by 37%. In other words, these cell markers equate to growing 25 years younger.
This resembles the fantasy storyline of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and the 2008 movie of the same name starring Brad Pitt, where the title character ages in reverse.
Researchers believe that this type of cell regeneration is triggered by quick oxygen shortages as a result of the pressurized chambers.
Shai Efrati, MD, associate professor at Tel Aviv University and co-author of the study, said, “The significant improvement of telomere length shown provides the scientific community with a new foundation of understanding that aging can, indeed, be targeted and reversed at the basic cellular-biological level.”
To ensure accurate results and avoid any unwanted stimuli, subjects participating in the study were asked to maintain their regular lifestyles, diets, and medications.
Scientists in the study were astounded at the timeframe it took to reach cell regeneration.
“What is remarkable to note in our study, is that in just three months of therapy, we were able to achieve such significant telomere elongation – at rates far beyond any of the current available interventions or lifestyle modifications,” said Dr. Amil Hadanny, co-author of the study.
While much more research needs to be done, there is a better understanding of the aging process that many of us have come to dread.