Some people spend hours in the gym and watch their diet, all to look and feel better. But others say they're slowing the aging process by taking a simple pill, and the research behind it has ties to the Tampa Bay area.
Zebra Fish raised at Gibsonton's Segrest Farms were used to help researchers learn more about diseases affecting humans.
"Adult fish have a really impressive ability to regenerate not just injured cells, but neuro cells, like neurons, and that's come under the spotlight for Alzheimer's research and other degenerative diseases," says Marketing Director Mike Tuccinardi. "Their chromosomes are similar to humans."
That ability to regenerate comes from the tip of their chromosomes: protective caps like the ends of a shoelace secure each end. Those caps are called telomeres, and are the reason some patients swear by a supplement called TA-65.
Dr. Marvin Lagstein, 65, says, "I feel good. I think that I look better than my age, and to me -- I just have a sense that it's working."
Lagstein, 69, is a dentist. Every day, he pops a capsule filled with an energy boosting herb used in traditional Chinese medicine.
Dr. Florence Comite also buys it and says, " It's not quite the fountain of youth in a pill -- but what it does do, is it protects the DNA ."
As babies, we also have protective caps on our chromosomes. As we age, they unravel. Telomeres shorten, possibly exposing cells to damage.
TA-65 supporters claim the supplement not only stops the telomeres from getting shorter, it actually grows them back.
Comite says her body has changed after taking the supplement, and claims her doctor noticed physical changes inside her eye.
"He measured my eyes -- and saw that my need for reading glasses had diminished," according to Comite.
"There's no proof out there that longer telomere equals a younger person or a healthier person," says Dr. Rivka Stone.
She studies telomeres, and won't comment on TA-65.
"It's not necessarily true that just because your telomeres are longer that means you're going to be less aged. You're going to look younger or feel younger," she says. "I haven't seen any studies that show that lengthening telomeres by themselves if you were able to do that would in any way reverse aging."
But Dr. Lagstein says he's sticking with the supplement. He claims tests show his telomeres have grown longer.
TA-65 costs more than $200 a bottle. The manufacturers says the dose depends on your age. Younger people may only need one bottle a month. Older patients might require up to three.
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