Can hyperbaric oxygen therapy stop ageing?

In clinical trials people were given a special oxygen treatment that reverses the ageing clock

A new clinic will open in Dubai early next year that promises to reverse ageing in human beings by tweaking genes.

Aviv Clinics Dubai, to be set up in Jumeirah Lake Towers, will offer hyperbaric oxygen therapy that might reverse a person’s biological age.

The treatment tweaks a compound called telomeres, which is in the human DNA and acts as the ageing clock in every cell.

Telomeres get shorter each time a cell divides. Over time, it gets too short to do its job and this causes the cells to age and stop functioning properly.

The therapy tries to elongate the telomeres and reverse the biological clock.

The procedure is already used to treat several medical conditions. According to Mayo Clinic in the US, the oxygen therapy is a well-established treatment for decompression sickness, a potential risk of scuba diving.

During the treatment, the air pressure is increased two to three times higher than normal in a hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber.

Those who undergo this therapy can gather much more oxygen, which helps release substances called growth factors and stem cells, reads the website of Mayo Clinic.

Dubai's Aviv Clinic’s medical programme was led by physician Prof Shai Efrati of Sagol School of Neuroscience at Shamir Medical Centre in Israel.

Prof Efrati and his team recently completed and published the first human clinical HBOT study in the world to show reversal in ageing.

The results of the trials were published in international peer-reviewed journal, Aging.

The participants in the study, who were given the special oxygen treatment, showed a significant increase in the length of their telomeres.

Researchers also noticed a decrease in senescent cells, which are found in the skin and accumulate with age.

Shorter telomeres and senescent cells are linked to age-related diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular problems, diabetes, dementia and Alzheimer’s.

“Since telomere shortening is considered the ‘holy grail’ of the biology of aging, many pharmacological and environmental interventions are being extensively explored in the hopes of enabling telomere elongation,” Prof Efrati said.

“The significant improvement of telomere length shown during and after our HBOT protocols provides the scientific community with a new foundation for understanding that aging can, indeed, be targeted and reversed at the basic cellular biological level.”

Experts at Mayo Clinic consider the procedure safe but there are some rare risks.

“The treatment can lead to ear injuries, temporary nearsightedness, seizures as a result of too much oxygen and lowered blood sugar in people who have diabetes treated with insulin,” reads the Mayo Clinic website.

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