THIS is cool. And it involves the thymus, so it lines up well with our lectures!
Nature published a news article on September 5th entitled “First Hint that Body’s ‘Biological Age’ Can Be Reversed.” It summarizes a study in which the biological age of a small group of subjects actually reversed (yeah, you read that right, reversed!) following a year-long protocol involving three common drugs.
The study’s initial purpose was to see if drug therapy could stimulate regeneration of thymic tissue (remember how we said the thymus is biggest at puberty and gets smaller and smaller as you age?). But along the way, the researchers figured, hey, let’s also measure some methylation sites on the subjects’ DNA to see whether the treatment also affects epigenetic markers of aging.
Turns out the answer was yes on both counts: the subjects’ thymuses got bigger, and according to the DNA studies, the patients appeared an average of 2.5 years younger than when they started!
Okay, this is a small study, and it’s multifaceted, and there are always unintended/potentially dangerous side effects with drugs. STILL. SO COOL.