What Are Your Telomeres Telling You?

When it comes to the science of aging, there are few discoveries as intriguing as telomeres.  These caps at the ends of chromosomes protect genes from being eroded each time a cell divides. When telomeres are finally eaten away after many years, cells begin to show signs of aging. This process is thought to be a key part of what makes us grow old.

 Telomeres’ partner in crime is the enzyme telomerase, which helps keep telomeres long and healthy, a property that’s made it the subject of almost science-fictional fascination.  Telomerase confers immortality on cancer cells and has even been shown to reverse aging in telomerase –deficient rats.

Now, in a move that brings these questions into sharper focus for the general public, Telome Health, founded by Elizabeth Blackburn, who won the 2009 Nobel Prize for Medicine for her work in this area, has announced that it will bring to market a test for telomere length.

The company already provides such a test for research use, but according to its website it will release a test for the general public this fall

News of the test’s release has spurred a flurry of misleading reports suggesting that we’re on the cusp of being able to learn how long we’ll live — and whether we can ward off the irksome outward signs of aging.

While scientists are divided over the value of the test for individuals, no serious researchers are saying a telomere test will be some kind of crystal ball. However, if people can monitor their telomere length, perhaps they can make lifestyle changes to alter that risk by boosting their cells’ longevity.

SRxA’s Word on Health is asking its readers: Would you take the test?  Let us know.

Homeopathy gets a Nobel nod

Dr. Luc Montagnier, the French virologist who won the Nobel Prize in 2008 for discovering the AIDS virus, has surprised the scientific community with his strong support for homeopathic medicine.

In a remarkable interview published in Science magazine, Professor Montagnier expressed support for the often maligned and misunderstood medical specialty of homeopathic medicine. Although homeopathy has been around for >200 years, most conventional physicians and scientists have expressed skepticism about its efficacy due to the extremely small and highly diluted doses of medicines used.

Montagnier disagrees. “I can’t say that homeopathy is right in everything. What I can say now is that the high dilutions (used in homeopathy) are right. High dilutions of something are not nothing. They are water structures which mimic the original molecules.”

His experimental research confirms that even after sequential dilution, electromagnetic signals of the original medicine remains in the water and can have dramatic biological effects.

Montagnier has just taken a new position at Jiaotong University in Shanghai, China where his work will focus on the phenomenon of electromagnetic waves produced by DNA in water. He and his team will study both the theoretical basis and the possible applications in medicine.

He is confident  that these new observations will lead to novel treatments for many common chronic diseases, including but not limited to autism, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.

In the Science magazine interview Montagnier also expressed real concern about the unscientific atmosphere that presently exists on certain unconventional subjects such as homeopathy. When asked if he is concerned that he is drifting into pseudoscience, he replied adamantly: “No, because it’s not pseudoscience. It’s not quackery. These are real phenomena which deserve further study.”

This is in stark contrast to the recent statement from the British Medical Association who referred to homeopathy as “witchcraft.”

So, who’s right?  SRxA’s Word on Health wonders if it’s the case that when one goes on a witch hunt, one inevitably finds “witches!”

Let us know what you think.