Like an ancient story of old, one man is on a quest to find the fountain of youth — or perhaps make it himself.
Dr. David Sinclair, a molecular biologist at Harvard Medical School, announced in a series of social media posts in July that he thinks he and his team have discovered “chemical cocktails” for age reversal.
The Harvard research team claimed that by using a combination of six chemical cocktails, people could reverse the aging process at the cellular level and restore cells to younger versions of themselves, according to the U.K. Daily Mail.
“This new discovery offers the potential to reverse aging with a single pill, with applications ranging from improving eyesight to effectively treating age-related diseases,” Sinclair said, according to the Daily Mail.
The approach of using chemical compounds was used in pursuit of replicating the effects of gene editing, which is a much more expensive and time-consuming endeavor.
As reported in the New York Post, each cocktail contains five to seven agents, with many currently used to treat various physical and mental illnesses.
“We’ve previously shown age reversal is possible using gene therapy to turn on embryonic genes. Now we show it’s possible with chemical cocktails, a step towards affordable, whole-body rejuvenation,” Sinclair said, according to the Post.
The pursuit of youthfulness and reversing the process of aging is Sinclair’s life’s work.
In a July article from CNN, Sinclair describes his research and building upon a Nobel-Prize-winning discovery from Japan.
In 2007, Japanese scientists were able to reprogram adult cells into behaving like stem cells and named these gene triggers “Yamanaka factors.”
Experimenting further with these Yamanaka factors led to exciting discoveries showing cells returning to a healthy and young state, seemingly going backward in time.
“I call it the information theory of aging,” Sinclair said, according to CNN.
“It’s a loss of information that drives aging cells to forget how to function, to forget what type of cell they are. And now we can tap into a reset switch that restores the cell’s ability to read the genome correctly again, as if it was young.”
In the CNN report, Sinclair also said there are other ways to reverse the aging trend.
For instance, he attributed cutting back on meals to giving him a body a full decade younger than his 53 years.
“I’ve been doing a biological test for 10 years now, and I’ve been getting steadily younger for the last decade,” Sinclair said, according to CNN.
“The biggest change in my biological clock occurred when I ate less often – I only eat one meal a day now. That made the biggest difference to my biochemistry.”
Sinclair’s latest claim of his chemical compound “breakthrough” has been met with skepticism from other scientists, with warnings of caution to readers, according to the Daily Mail.
Matt Kaeberlein, a biogerontologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, told the Daily Mail the evidence did not support the claims:
“They should have validated at least one of these cocktails in an animal and shown improvements in age-related health metrics or lifespan before making these claims about effects on biological aging,” he said.
According to the Daily Mail, Sinclair’s team findings were published in the academic journal Aging, of which Sinclair is co-editor-in-chief.
Sinclair’s paper was submitted and accepted in a span of five days, which would raise the issue of a lack of rigorous peer review before publication.