Telomerase a New Fountain of Youth?

Telomerase is an enzyme that adds specific DNA sequence repeats to the end of DNA strands in the telomere regions. Telomerase consists of two molecules each - telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT), telomerase RNA (TERC) and dyskerin. By using TERC, TERT can add a specific six-nucleotide repeating sequence to the strand of chromosomes. These repeats are called telomeres.

As we get older, the ends of the chromosomes that carry our genes start to erode. Each time a cell divides, the telomeres get shorter. When they get too short, the cell can no longer divide and becomes inactive or "senescent" or dies. This process is associated with aging. Telomeres do not shorten with age, though, in tissues such as heart muscle in which cells do not continually divide.

Telomerase can place natural caps on telomeres, protecting them from shortening. A variety of premature-aging syndromes are associated with short telomeres. Repairing these loose ends may hold the key to manipulating a person's aging process and thus, among other things, also controlling the growth of healthy hair. However, the inappropriate activation of telomerase is associated with the uncontrollable proliferation of cells seen in as many as 90% of all human cancers. Poorly controlled use of telomerase to prolong life, therefore, might lead to cancer.

Although the focal point of the telomere studies is cancer research, many teams of scientists around the world are exploring their anti-aging applications. In one study, conditional transgenic induction of TERT, the protein component of telomerase, in mouse skin epithelium caused a rapid transition from telogen, the resting phase of the hair follicle cycle, to anagen, the active phase, thereby facilitating robust hair growth.

The final telomerase-based medication for treating grey hair and baldness might still be years away but there is an existing treatment called iGrow Hair, which claims to use telomerase to reverse greying and regrow lost hair already available on the market. This is despite the fact that neither its effectiveness nor safety were studied and confirmed by an independent medical research. The Potential buyers should exercise caution when considering this product, especially given its outrageous pricing and potential health risk.

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