Woman Made Biologically Younger by Gene Therapy
Ashley Allen / 3 years ago
The CEO of gene therapy company BioViva Sciences USA claims to have become the first person to have been successfully made biologically younger following an experimental procedure. Elizabeth Parrish, who also founded BioViva, has announced that the gene therapy she received has made the 44-year-old around 20 years younger, according to white blood cell count.
Biological age can be approximately calculated through measuring the telomere length of T-lymphocytes – commonly known as white blood cells. After her gene therapy, Parrish says that her telomere length – and, thus, the “youthfulness” of the cells – became comparable to a woman 20 years younger than her chronological age.
Telomere data taken from Parrish before the therapies showed that hers were actually shorter than is common for a person her age – making her “older” than the norm – which increased her chances that age-related diseases could affect her earlier than expected. This, Parrish says, is the reason for BioViva’s work, and she goes on to describe the aging process itself as a disease.
“I basically had to change my thinking to realize that the body’s cells are very much like a computer, and the things that they’re programmed to do eventually land up with a lot of damage over time,” Parrish told Inverse. “Some people get that damage at a youthful age; that is, some people have programming issues — genetic problems — early on. Some people are born with them. But all of us are accumulating this damage that will eventually lead to the symptoms of the aging disease and kill us.”
After undergoing the procedure, Parrish – the self-described “patient zero” – had her telomeres measured again, and the results showed that a lengthening that equalled approximately 20 years, from 6.71kb to 7.33kb. The results were independently verified by Healthy Life Extension Company (HEALES) in Brussels.
While, pending approval by national medical and pharmaceutical regulators, Parrish acknowledges that the process is sure to prove expensive to early patients, she hopes that BioViva’s therapies will soon become as ubiquitous as Apple’s famous smartphone. “First it’s kind of like building a supercomputer, and then eventually everyone gets an iPhone,” she says. “In your life when you look at that, you don’t ever remember living without an iPhone.”