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Gene Therapy is Taking Antiaging and Regenerative Medicine to the Next Level

Aging is a natural part of life, but have you — What if you could regrow damaged tissue, reverse chronic illness, cure neurodegenerative disease, and even slow aging by harnessing the power of your own cells? It may sound like science fiction, but that is the promise of the emerging field of “Regenerative Medicine.” 

Instead of traditional medical interventions that treat a disease, Regenerative Medicine is focused on using your body’s own healing and regenerative properties – such as stem cells and Platelet Rich Plasma – to actually restore tissues and organs to the state they were before being harmed by sickness, disease or even aging! Incredible breakthroughs in the field have already been accomplished, with stem cell therapies having been used to successfully regenerate eye tissue, lung tissue, and heart tissue. The next step forward is to combine these kinds of stem cell therapies with targeted gene editing. 

Gene editing, also known as genome editing, is a type of genetic engineering that allows scientists to modify an organism’s DNA by adding, removing, or altering specific locations in the genome. This technology works by cutting the DNA at a specific location and then removing, adding, or replacing the DNA.

One of the pioneers in this field is Dr. Adeel Khan, M.D. He is the CEO and founder of Eterna Health clinics, where he is already achieving remarkable results with interventional stem cell and gene therapies. 

“So regenerative medicine and the holy grail of regenerative medicine is basically this intersection between cell therapy, gene editing, or gene therapy and tissue engineering, says Dr. Khan. “So all three of those is kind of what’s the next era of medicine. And combining all three of those in a very sophisticated way is what’s going to allow us to regrow organs and fix any disease known to man. I think especially once Crispr becomes a reality, you should be able to fix any genetic defect. And it’s we’re getting there. We’re not there yet. But I think that’s definitely going to happen as these technologies continue to evolve.”

You may have heard of the gene editing technology that Dr. Khan mentions. What Cripsr does is it allows you to literally edit things you may not want in a gene, like a DNA sequence that causes Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s’, if such a thing can be discovered — then edit that part out of the patient’s DNA, basically, sew the DNA back together, reinsert the modified gene into the person’s cells, and the genes for the expression of the disease will be gone. That is the promise of Crispr, but we are not anywhere near that yet. Instead, Dr. Khan is doing a more targeted kind of gene therapy with something he calls “Minicircles.” 

“The technology we’re working with is called Minicircles, and I may be biased because I work with them, but I think Minicircles have a lot more practical value. They don’t have the same power capability as Crispr because we can’t cut out things and correct them, but we can add genes, so that’s what our technology can do. So we can add any gene, any peptide or protein in the body, up to 10,000 base pairs, which is fairly big but not as big as obviously Crispr can just pretty much do anything. So, what is a Minicircle? A Minicircle is a plasmid that’s derived from E coli, a bacteria, and a plasmid is just something that is used to exchange information.”

The technique is to use these small circular plasmids as tiny carriers of any protein or peptide of therapeutic value you would like to introduce to the body. 

The Antiaging Benefits of Follistatin Gene Therapy

The first such Minicircle gene therapy that Dr. Khan and his team use successfully is something called Follistatin gene therapy. Follistatin is a propeptide that is related to building increased muscle mass by increasing production and secretion of testosterone. Follistatin is normally produced by the liver and it is released in response to damage to muscles from injury or the normal “tearing down of muscle” during working out. 

“We chose to start with Follistatin because it’s very well studied, and we understand all the mechanisms, explains Khan. “It helps to preserve muscle mass and increases muscle mass. And we know that if we can help to slow down muscle loss and or increase muscle gain, we’re going to help with your longevity and healthspan. And so that’s why we chose Follistatin as our first target.”

During the procedure, the Follistatin carrier cells are injected into your arm or stomach. “And what happens is, it’s not changing your DNA. But all it’s doing is adding this gene and it’s telling your cell to produce more Follistatin. And then it goes into your blood, and it does what it does, which is increase muscle mass and decrease systemic inflammation. So it’s quite powerful for aging. And we showed that in our clinical trial.” 

Click here if you want to read Dr. Khan’s paper and learn more about Minicircle Therapy. 

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