Treatments with high-pressure oxygen in a pressure chamber can reverse two major processes associated with aging and its illnesses, according to a new study from Tel Aviv University (TAU) and the Shamir Medical Center in Israel.
Hyperbaric oxygen treatments (HBOT) in healthy aging adults can stop the aging of blood cells and reverse the aging process. In the biological sense, the blood cells actually grow younger as the progress of the treatment.
The researchers found that a unique protocol of treatments with high-pressure oxygen in a pressure chamber can reverse two major processes associated with aging and its illnesses: the shortening of telomeres (protective regions located at both ends of every chromosome) and the accumulation of old and malfunctioning cells in the body. Focusing on immune cells containing DNA obtained from the participants’ blood, the study discovered a lengthening of up to 38% of the telomeres, as well as a decrease of up to 37% in the presence of senescent cells.
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The study discovered that the unique protocol of treatment they used with high-pressure oxygen in a pressure chamber reversed major processes associated with aging and its illnesses. One is shortening up to 38% of the telomeres – the end of each strand of every DNA that protects our chromosomes, like a plastic cap. Without telomeres, DNA strands become damaged until they no longer function.
In addition, Focusing on immune cells containing DNA obtained from the participants’ blood, the treatment showed a decrease of up to 37% in the presence of senescent cells which contribute to aging, and aging-associated diseases.
The researchers exposed 35 healthy adults aged 64 or over to a series of 60 hyperbaric sessions over a period of 90 days. Each person provided blood samples before, during, and at the end of the treatments as well as some time after the series of treatments ended. The researchers then analyzed various immune cells in the blood and compared the results.
The findings indicated that the treatments actually reversed the aging process in two of its major aspects: The telomeres at the ends of the chromosomes grew longer instead of shorter, at a rate of 20%-38% for the different cell types; and the percentage of senescent cells reduced remarkably- by 11%-37% depending on cell type.
The study, published in Aging, led by Professor Shai Efrati and Dr. Amir Hadanny, from Tel Aviv University. Prof. Efraty is the Founder and Director of the Sagol Center of Hyperbaric Medicine at the Shamir Medical Center and Dr. Haddany is the Chief Medical Research Officer at that center.
“Today telomere shortening is considered the ‘Holy Grail’ of the biology of aging,” Professor Efrati says. “Researchers around the world are trying to develop pharmacological and environmental interventions that enable telomere elongation. Our HBOT protocol was able to achieve this, proving that the aging process can in fact be reversed at the basic cellular-molecular level.”
“Until now, interventions such as lifestyle modifications and intense exercise were shown to have some inhibiting effect on telomere shortening,” Dr. Hadanny adds. “But in our study, only three months of HBOT were able to elongate telomeres at rates far beyond any currently available interventions or lifestyle modifications. With this pioneering study, we have opened a door for further research on the cellular impact of HBOT and its potential for reversing the aging process.”
photo credit: LOGAN WEAVER / Unsplash