Harvard Professor uses Gene Therapy to Fight Aging

Double helix structure of the DNA in depth of view.

A renowned Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and director of PersonalGenomes.org, George Church, started a small biotech company in the hope of understanding age-related diseases.

Rejuvenate Bio is a biotechnology company that aims at unraveling and reversing aging with gene therapy. Currently, they are in the clinical phase in testing an “anti-aging” gene therapy on dogs. The results from the trial may bring in new hopes for inhibiting age-related diseases in humans. 

Church and his colleagues say that they have compelling evidence proving that their treatment reversed multiple age-related diseases in mice. 

They worked on three genes and ran several experiments FGF21, sTGF2betaR, and alpha-Klotho. At first, genetically engineered and wild type mice were compared with one another to see how their health and life span differ with one another. They discovered that wild type mice had diseases like type-2 diabetes, heart and kidney failure, obesity, etc. When given a cocktail of gene combinations, they saw a health improvement and reversal of symptoms in mice taking the drug.

The team discovered a few results given below:

A combination of FGF21 and sTGF2betaR was able to treat all four diseases: type2 diabetes, kidney failure, heart failure, and obesity. FGF21 was able to reverse weight gain and type-2 diabetes, and the combination with sTGF2betaR w as s able to lower kidney atrophy by 75% in the mice that were selected with kidney failure. The combination of these two genes was also able to reverse symptoms of heart failure. 

As for the combination of all three genes of FGF21, sTGFbetaR and alpha-Klotho was unsuccessful in treating any of the four diseases. The mice that were given the combination faced worse outcomes than the ones that weren’t injected with anything. 

This was caused by an adverse reaction that took place between FGF21 and alpha-klotho. However, they still believe that further experimentation is needed to reach a conclusion. 

The three genes they use in their treatment have some well-known health benefits. Some of these benefits are given below: 

FGF21 plays a vital role in insulin resistance and also in fat metabolism. Last year some researchers also discovered that a variant in FGF21 is present in some who have a naturally low level of body fat.

Researchers at Yale discovered that beta-Klotho promotes glucose metabolism, weight loss, and insulin sensitivity by binding itself to FGF21. 

The company is one of its statements that said that preclinical trials on mice were a significant step to finding one-time gene therapy treatment to treat several age-related diseases. 

In the words of Professor George Church, “This research marks a milestone in being able to treat the many diseases associated with aging effects, and perhaps could lead to a means of addressing aging itself.” 

Gene therapy, if successfully developed as per the belief of Professor George Church, could be life-changing. 

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