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The Most Important Discovery in the History of the Human Race

Posted Mar 19 2010 8:00am

“It’s the most important discovery in the history of the human race.”

I stopped scribbling notes and looked up from my pad. Surely he wasn’t serious.

But he was.

“It will change evolution. It will change how we think of what it means to be human.”

That’s big talk. At first I was skeptical. But then again, Dr. Sears knows what he’s talking about. In the short time I’ve known him, I’ve never heard him say anything that he hadn’t already given a lot of thought.

You can disagree with him. But you have to respect his opinion. The man does not jump to conclusions. He does his homework.

Presumably that’s how one gets to be a nationally prominent physician and researcher, not to mention a bestselling author.

“What’s truly amazing,” he continued, “is that none of the best science fiction writers — Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury — none of them ever imagined anything like this.

“None of them ever dreamed that one day we would control aging.”

I know what you’re thinking. Control aging? That’s ridiculous.

I know what you’re thinking because that’s what I was thinking, too.

But Dr. Sears openly acknowledged that it sounds crazy. And that gave me pause. That made me want to hear him out.

So I did. And now he’s nearly convinced me. So rather than try to reinvent the wheel, I’m going to tell it to you just like he told it to me.

Anti-aging is real. It’s the next big frontier in medicine. It may very well change everything. And I’m going to tell you all about in Dr. Sears’ own words.

In this article, the first in a series, I’m going to explain what anti-aging is all about. On Tuesday, I’ll tell you about the first major therapeutic development, a revolutionary discovery that can literally turn back the clock on aging.

Then next Friday, I’ll tell you about the simple steps you can take right now — at home, on your own, at no cost — to start taking control of the aging process.

It’s a series you definitely don’t want to miss.

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Better Than Science Fiction

“I remember in 1990 when I first read in the journal Science about telomeres and telomerase,” Dr. Sears told me. “I remember reading about how they work.

“I read about them and then I wrote down on a little piece of paper that I still have:

“‘It’s the end of aging as we know it. It will change everything on this planet.’”

Telomeres are often described as the protective caps at the ends of the chromosomes, like the plastic aglets on shoelaces. It’s not a bad image. I don’t love the analogy, though, because telomeres do a good bit more than just tie up the loose ends of your DNA.

In fact, they are so important that their discoverers received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2009.

Then again, your shoelaces don’t have to self-replicate.

“You were probably taught in high school biology that each time a cell divides, it produces two genetically identical copies of itself.”

Dr. Sears smiled knowingly.

“That’s just not true. Each time a cell divides, the telomeres get a little bit shorter. The cell just can’t copy the very ends of the chromosomes because there’s nothing to hold onto.

“That means that a cell can only divide so many times before the telomeres run out. When that happens, the cell dies.

“The telomeres are literally the biological clock. It’s the basic mechanism of aging.”

Dr. Sears told me that the telomeres hold the key to controlling and even reversing aging. He said that he knew that as soon as he read about them for the first time. When he read about what they could do, he immediately saw their potential.

So why haven’t you heard much about them until now?

A Great Big Misunderstanding

Several years ago, a panel of 51 experts in science and medicine was convened to discuss anti-aging. The conclusion of that panel was that anti-aging was impossible.

“Fifty-one experts?” Dr. Sears snorted. “More like 51 idiots. Fifty-one morons.

“People say that aging is the result of wear and tear, that oxidative stress and free radical damage accumulate over time until you grow old and die.

“But that’s not what causes death.

“That would be like the FAA coming in to investigate a plane crash and announcing that the cause of the crash was gravity.

“Well, okay. That’s what ultimately brought it to the ground. But all the other planes are still flying. Why did this one succumb to gravity?

“Aging is an internally orchestrated process that unfolds over the entire lifetime of the organism. There has to be some way for the organism to know how old it is so that it can carry out that program.

“There also has to be some way to reset the genetic clock. Otherwise, your children would be born older than you.

“Telomerase is an enzyme that actually lengthens the telomeres. The telomeres get shorter as you age, but telomerase resets germ cells to zero. Then the clock starts again with fertilization and the first cell division.”

Ponce de Leon Would Be Proud

What if we could control the clock? Would that be the secret to eternal life?

“Let’s get one thing straight,” Dr. Sears said brusquely. “Aging and death are not the same thing. So anti-aging and immortality are not the same thing.”

He smiled.

“If anything, say it’s the Fountain of Youth, okay?

“A lot of doctors out there see themselves as crusaders against death and disease. And that’s good. That’s noble.

“But I’ve never seen myself that way. I’ve never been interesting in doing that.

“I’ve always been interested in figuring out how and why we age and then applying forces against it. I’m interested in improving quality of life. I’m interested in keeping people young until they die.

“But they’ll still die for all the reasons they do now. They’ll just live better along the way.

“Is anti-aging possible? Of course it’s possible. All you have to do is take a characteristic of old age and change it back to a characteristic of youth.

“For example, lung capacity often falls with age. I can measure an individual’s lung capacity. Then I can perform an intervention to increase it. If I change that parameter, that’s anti-aging.

“It’s not necessarily prolonging life. But it is reversing a symptom of aging.

“Changing telomere biology is the most fundamental way to get at aging because telomeres are the central mechanism that governs the aging process. And we’re starting to do that now.

“The technology isn’t perfect. There’s a lot we still don’t know. But it’s coming. In the next 20 years, I’d say.

“We’re jumping the first hurdle now. This is the first step in a process that will dramatically change everything.”

It almost sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? But it’s not. It’s real. Stay tuned for Tuesday’s issue, when I’ll tell you all about this amazing new technology discovery that, as I said, can literally turn back the clock on aging.

To Your Health,

Michael Noltemeyer
Managing Editor
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