The fountain of youth may be made of air, not water.
Scientists say they’ve successfully reversed the aging process of elderly people through “oxygen therapy” in a first-of-its-kind study.
Researchers from Tel Aviv University used hyperbaric oxygen chambers to target specific cells and DNA linked to shorter lifespans – and found the “Holy Grail” of staying young, according to a press release about the discovery.
During the study, researchers investigated whether the therapy – which involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized environment – could reverse the effects of aging in 35 people over age 64, according to the study, which was published Wednesday in the journal Aging.
They placed elderly participants in the chamber for 90 minutes a day, five days a week for three months and studied its impact on senescent cells, which are associated with tissue and organ deterioration. They also measured the length of each person’s telomere, a molecule linked to premature cellular aging.
Remarkably, scientists found that the participants’ telomeres had enlarged by an average length of 20 percent while their senescent cells decreased by up to 37 per cent by the end of the trial – the equivalent growing 25 years younger.
“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,” said the study’s co-author Shai Efrati. “Since telomere shortening is considered the ‘Holy Grail’ of the biology of aging.”
While undergoing the sessions, participants did not change their lifestyles, diets or medications, which have proven in the past to impact a person’s biological age.
The scientists, which include doctors from the Shamir Medical Center, believe the pressurized chamber triggered brief oxygen shortages, which caused cell regeneration.
“Until now, interventions such as lifestyle modifications and intense exercise were shown to have some inhibition effect on the expected telomere length shortening,” said Dr. Amir Hadanny, who co-authored of the study.
“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.”