Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. – Dylan Thomas
To those who don’t know me, allow me to introduce myself: I am Liz Parrish, CEO of BioViva, and I fight for everyone’s right to achieve maximum health span.
Humanity is now burdened by aging more than ever. Soon, the silver tsunamis affecting Japan and Western Europe will become the norm globally, with serious implications for productivity, economic growth and social stability.
Aging is not only expensive; it can often be demeaning by causing disability. It is associated with an endless list of diseases: dementia, cardiovascular disease, cancer and wasting. Its psychological burden is beyond measure.
But aging is also preventable. We live in a golden age of technology, yet little is accessible and affordable to the general population, due to lack of knowledge, safety data and a general perception that aging cannot be helped, that this is how life should end.
I refuse to subscribe to this complacency. I refuse to allow humanity not to benefit from the breakthrough scientific discoveries in the anti-aging field. I am not talking about cosmetics, but about whole body rejuvenation at cellular level. Humans are capable of living long healthy disease-free lives; we have anecdotal cases that prove this fact. I fight so that that these become the norm instead. I want my company to be a portal into a future of long healthy lifespans for all across the globe.
Although a large body of research was proving that gene and cell therapies were safe in laboratories around the world, human trials were lacking. So I decided I must start the war against biological aging by doing something about it myself.
In September 2015 I received two gene therapies. The first was designed to inhibit age-related muscular wasting caused by a protein called myostatin, and it was injected into my leg muscles. The average person loses a full 50% of his/her muscle mass by age 80. This age related muscle loss, known as sarcopenia, is implicated in many age-related disorders, and results in poor quality and quantity of life.
The second was designed to prevent an important aspect of cellular aging, namely telomere shortening. Telomeres are protective caps of chromosomes, which shorten as we age. The progressive shortening of telomere leads to increase in senescent cells, increase in loss of cells, and increase in cancer risk. Shorter telomeres have also been linked with higher likelihood of having cardiovascular disease, type-2-diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and some forms of dementia.
The human telomerase (hTERT) gene upregulates the activity of the enzyme telomerase, which extends the telomere length. It was injected in multiple locations to facilitate spread throughout the body. Both therapies were delivered using a specific type of viral vector called adeno-associated virus (AAV), which allows wide targeting of different types of tissue in the body.
Yes, I was nervous. While I was fully confident that the therapies were as safe for me as they proved to be, I was facing years of waiting for something to happen. Anyone who ever had to wait for their medical test results knows exactly how this feels. Most of all, I was hoping for the success seen in laboratories. I felt that human lives are at stake, and they depend on me, and on my body’s response to these therapies.
Before I underwent the therapy procedure, my white blood cell telomeres were measured in September, 2015 by SpectraCell’s Texas laboratory, using a blood sample. They were determined to be unusually short, meaning that I was aging much faster than others my age. According to my telomeres, I was supposed to be in my mid-sixties.
In March 2016, my telomeres were again measured by SpectraCell. I had already started at a disadvantage, which multiplied the anticipation anxiety. Thankfully, the results exceeded all my expectations. They showed that my telomeres had been extended from an initial 6.71kb to 7.33kb, meaning that my cells grew younger by about 20 years in only 6 months. The gene therapies had restored my telomeres in these cells to my normal age. I hardly dared to hope there was room for improvement still.
In 2018 I went again for testing at SpectraCell. My telomeres further increased from 7.33kb in 2016 to 8.12kb in 2018, equivalent to another decade of cellular rejuvenation.
This outcome has exceeded all my expectations. First, because there have so far been no negative effects of my therapy. That is, no cancer, the alleged danger with activating the telomerase enzyme. But second, because my telomeres have continued to get longer without any additional treatment.
The same improvement was obtained following the muscle deterioration treatments: not only did my muscle mass increase after the myostatin inhibitor therapy, but continues to be robust 3 years after it took place.
Both animated MRI images show a change of composition in the muscle quality in my thighs, as shown through the cross-section of the middle of the thigh in different planes. From pre-treatment to post treatment a growth in overall muscle mass and a reduction of intramuscular fat content was observed over a period of three years. This loss of intramuscular fat, also known as ‘marbling’, is associated with beneficial metabolic changes and improved musculature. My overall body weight did not decrease during this period.
As my personal experience shows, a single treatment stimulated the telomerase and the myostatin inhibitor enzymes for at least 3 years after being administered, with no adverse effect. This can be a proof of concept that these two therapies, amply tested in animal models, are safe and efficient in humans.
The exciting telomere length improvement was shown in my white blood cells, but I don’t yet know if it is happening in all cells inside my body. My team and I are trying to figure this out.
We will also work to determine the precise dose of a therapy to hit all the cells in the body. I am hoping to share this with you soon in another blog.
My goal is to create treatments for people before they become patients; to create a preventative medicine institution for the next generation and evolution of healthy humans.
I hope you become one of them.