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In the article Fountain of youth? Apr. 14, 2012, Written by: Dr. W. Gifford-Jones, QMI Agency, the author claims:

Today more than 8,000 scientific articles have been reported on the importance of telomeres in aging. But one peer reviewed study, published in September 2011, reported on humans who were given the telomerase activator, TA-65, to maintain the normal length of telomeres.

This study carried out on men showed that TA-65 resulted in a rejuvenated immune system with fewer senescent white blood cells. This suggests improved immunity protection in the elderly.

As we age we invariably experience a gradual decline in vision. A 2005 study showed that TA-65 has a positive effect on the structure and function of the eyes, causing improved vision in elderly men. Also seen was an improvement in the quality of skin.

Other studies using TA-65 showed cognitive and verbal memory improvement and increased bone density. Researchers also observed a lowering of cholesterol, blood pressure, fasting blood sugar. And some patients reported improved energy, increased flexibility and being more productive.

There seem to be ample studies that indicate that we have a molecule that puts a stopper in what we call symptoms of aging.

Not having read the studies referred to, I am skeptical of whether the observed studies demonstrate a phenomenon that is akin to "stopping aging", and in any case how reliable those studies are (i.e. were they in peer reviewed journals and can the results be reproduced).

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I haven't looked into the research either, so I can't answer, but telomerase activators have been on the wall for increasing longetvity for quite some time. Basically, what happens is this: telomeres become slowly shorter over cell generations. As telomeres become too short, there is an increased risk of DNA getting, um, tangled, to oversimplify, in a manner that the cells cannot repair, and so they auto-destruct to avoid becoming cancerous cells. So yes, the shortening of telomeres as we age seem tightly linked with massive cell breakdown, and we have for some time been thinking that –  David Hedlund Apr 19 '12 at 13:07
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we would rejuvenate people if we could treat their telomeres. But we also know that too long telomeres are a pretty strong indicator of cancer, and early trials with telomerase activators have all shown to be incredibly cancerous in mice. And who wants longer lifespan at the cost of greatly increased risk of developing cancer in your youth? (the idea being that treatment should start early in life). All I'm saying is, if they've managed to find an activator to, as they say, maintain normal length of telomeres, than the outcome they describe is not entirely inconceivable. –  David Hedlund Apr 19 '12 at 13:08

2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

tl;dr: The link between TA-65 and anti-aging is not substantiated by any evidence that meets accepted scientific standards.


An answer to this question was posted to this question by (now deleted) user TA-65, which answer purportedly affirmed the existence of a link between TA-65 and anti-aging.

I reproduce the answer, properly down-voted into oblivion, as I believe it contributes to the conclusion about the merits of the claims made (although not for the substance of the answer that user TA-65 provided):

YES ! And that proves scientific studies. In fact, the TA-65 is the only product of its kind to have scientific studies on human cells.

You can find more about that here: TA-65 Supplement – Review and Scientific Research

Also read more about: TA-65

The circumstances of the answer suggest that it was made by a shill promulgating quackery. The user TA-65 seems to have registered solely for the purpose of answering this question. Both of the above links are to ta65doctor.com, a web-site that seems to exist only to sell supplements labelled TA-65.

Looking beyond the motivations of user TA-65, the ta65doctor.com website has a list of research, that references:

Since they sell it, one would reasonably expect ta65doctor.com to put forward the best evidence in support of the association between TA-65 and anti-aging. Below is a synopsis of the conclusions of these papers. It is reasonable based on the analysis below to conclude that the papers cited fail to adequately demonstrate proof of the the claims put forward by the TA-65 website. Combined with the vacuous answer by the shill, it feels correct to conclude that at this time the link between TA-65 and anti-aging is as-yet unsubstantiated by accepted scientific standards.

EDIT : The only one evaluating TA-65 specifically is the last one of that whole list above (alternately titled A Natural Product Telomerase Activator As Part of a Health Maintenance Program). Most of the articles are reviews of Telomerase functions (useless), studies done on mice (useless for humans), and one of the human trials only had 28 participants so its ability to discern information is limited.

From the last study, here are a few excerpts to take note of:

Calvin Harley is one of the inventors of TA-65. He consults for TA Sciences and is personally taking TA-65 and is one of the subjects studied to generate data for this article. He owns stock and stock options in Geron Corporation, a company that is developing telomerase activators for therapeutic purposes and the company that licensed TA-65 to TA Sciences. He is co-founder, President, and CEO, and holds stock in Telome Health, Inc., a diagnostics company that will provide telomere- and telomerase-related assay services to the healthcare industry.

The author of the study for TA-65 has significant financial ties to the company producing TA-65. He's also participating in his own study, which practically ruins any chance the study had at producing clean data.

While that tidbit alone isn't enough to write-off TA-65 completely, it should make anyone considering TA-65 extremely skeptical.

The number of subjects at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months for most tests was 43, 59, 27, and 37, respectively. The age and gender frequencies of the subset at each time point were similar to those of the total baseline population (n = 114; 63 ± 12 years, 72% male).

The total number of participants was 114, but testing was incredibly inconsistent - with a low of 27 and a high of 59 (but never more than about half). That the authors didn't bother to strictly control who reported for tests and only keep those who were consistent about doing so (which is what you normally see for clinical trials - participant attrition over time until you have a single pool of subjects who completed all the exams/treatments), the results drawn from these numbers should be very suspect. I'd venture to call the results useless, but others might provide suggestions as to why they're not.

Starting doses of 5–10 mg/day were considered safe on the basis of historical usage of extracts. Some subjects increased their dosage after several months on the product to 25–50 mg/day.

Then there's that...

Data from this study were collected primarily as a hypothesis-generating exercise because subjects were not participating in a controlled prospective study, and statistical analyses were not formally defined a priori.

... and this, which isn't a huge surprise...

The most striking in vivo effects were declines in the percent senescent cytotoxic (CD8+/CD28−) T cells (1.5, 4.4, 8.6, and 7.5% at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months, respectively; p = not significant [N.S.], 0.018, 0.0024, 0.0062) and natural killer cells at 6 and 12 months (p = 0.028 and 0.00013, respectively). Most of these decreases were seen in cytomegalovirus (CMV) seropositive subjects. In a subset of subjects, the distribution of telomere lengths in leukocytes at baseline and 12 months was measured. Although mean telomere length did not increase, there was a significant reduction in the percent short (<4 kbp) telomeres (p = 0.037).

And finally the meat of the whole thing. The results of the study show only that T-Cells who had short Telomeres benefited significantly, and that if you've never contracted CMV - your T-Cells might not benefit at all.

So, if you want to believe the methods for performing the study are still valid, what you can conclude from the study is that the best affect you'll receive from TA-65 supported by evidence is that your Immune System will work slightly better.

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could you expand this answer by providing quotes or summaries from some of the studies you listed, as it stands now your answer is no better than the one you reference, it just has more links. –  Ryathal Oct 29 '12 at 13:47
    
@MCM: Thank you for the edit and effort behind it. –  Brian M. Hunt Oct 30 '12 at 12:38
    
+1 great answer, I hate to say this but it would be cool if it had a tldr summary at the top. –  Mark Rogers Jun 28 '13 at 15:31
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Claiming that studies on mice are useless for humans is perhaps a bit of an overstatement. Although I think it's still a good answer, and comes to a reasonable conclusion. –  Flimzy Jul 2 '13 at 19:30

Brian Hunt´s answer is completely correct, but let me add some important facts regarding "And finally the meat of the whole thing. The results of the study show only that T-Cells who had short Telomeres benefited significantly, and that if you've never contracted CMV - your T-Cells might not benefit at all".

There are papers published that indicate that the percentage of short telomeres is correlated with aging and disease, such as in this one.

This means that "only short telomeres benefited significantly" has an incorrect negative connotation. On the other hand, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), USA, between 50% and 80% of all adults in the USA are infected with cytomegalovirus.

So what we have here is lengthening of short telomeres for more than 50% of the population which is quite a promising result. This being said, the lengthening seems to be far from perfect right now, and I guess that a person taking TA-65 would barely feel the difference. There is research being done by people like Bill Andrews to make these compounds more effective, so we'll see what they come up with in the next couple of years.

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