The activity of telomeres in humans has been investigated for many years and its incidence in the length of our life. According to a new study led by Arizona State University and Texas A&M University scientists, plants had the "missing link" of cellular immortality.
"This is the first time that we identify the specific structure of the telomerase component of plants," said co-author Dr. Julian Chen, a professor of biochemistry at Arizona State University. The study was published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
He continues, "In terms of fundamental research, this is a breakthrough because now we finally have a way to study telomerase in plants and understand how different or similar they are from animals."
The discovery comes from trees such as Methuselah, a 4,845-year-old pine tree in eastern California, named after the biblical figure with the longest life (969 years). Methuselah, was the only tree of its kind and the oldest organism in the world until 2013 when they discovered another pine with an age greater than 5,000 years.
So what is Telomerase?
Telomerase, also called terminal transferase, is the enzyme that creates the DNA of telomeres, the composite structures located at the tips of our chromosomes. Telomeres protect our cells from aging as they multiply.
Most of the cells in our body have very low levels of telomerase and therefore age as they divide and stop functioning properly.
CNN asked the scientist the same question that we’ve been asking ourselves since we discovered the telomeres and the Astragalus (which is the herb that lengthens them) – If that discovery shows the possibility that human beings could also live thousands of years, like Methuselah pine. The scientist said that at the moment it is a very primitive investigation, and its effect on human beings has not yet been proven, but it is still in the works!
If science could take advantage of the secret discovered on the telomerase enzyme, we may (or may not) be able to prolong the life of telomeres and slow down the aging process. We could even reverse diseases in which telomeres are shortened, such as pulmonary fibrosis.
Julian Chen continues in his interview for CNN, “...in humans, for example, the chromosomes of ovules, sperm, and stem cells contain high levels of telomerase, so they can continue to divide over and over again and prevent rapid aging. However, when our body suffers a high level of oxidative stress, it can lose 50 to 100 base pairs of the telomere.”
Chen alarms CNN by telling him what we always reiterate. Smoking, improper diet, stress, and other harmful lifestyle habits that expose our body daily to oxidative damage so much that even the longest telomeres wear out. He concludes by saying "being happier will help you live longer”
He proceeds by saying, "If cells have telomerase, they will live longer, ... maybe the telomerase activity is different in plants than in animals," Chen said. "We know that part of the nucleus is similar and we hope to learn something from its regulation, mechanisms or structures that can be applied to human telomerase."
Scientists continue to explore the role of telomeres and the enzyme telomerase in aging, and for now, they believe they can only be a part of the aging process in animals.
------ Always remember to take about 300-500 mg of glutathione daily, preferably in liquid form for the best absorption for cellular health.