Your telomeres are shrinking. Those are the protective caps on the ends of your chromosomes in case you were wondering. There’s nothing you can about it, not yet anyway. Don’t fret. This is what happens to everybody as we age.
Liz Parrish, the CEO of BioViva, a Washington-based biotech company, believes there’s something we can do about it. She’s patient zero for her own company’s gene therapy research. They aim to prove the impossible, starting with their CEO.
The heads of the organization are Parrish, who is the CEO, Jason Williams, the CMO, and Avi Roy, the COO.
The rest of the team is Greta Blackburn, a retired entertainer who found a new path in fitness, David Kekich, the founder of the Maximum Life Foundation, which is a non-profit geared at reversing the aging process, and Mark Rosenberg, a board certified medical doctor certified by the American Academy of Anti-aging.
They call themselves “gene therapy innovation leaders.” What that means is they are dedicated to discovering ways to manipulate the human genome for improving the quality of life for aging people.
Parrish is clear that they are not shooting for immortality.
In an interview with ABC, she said, “Now we’re not talking about living forever, we’re talking about mitigating the diseases of aging, the complex diseases of childhood, like diabetes type 1, like Alzheimer’s, like cancer, like dementia.“
BioViva is now taking on Aging itself, treating it much the same as we treat diseases, but with one caveat. They aren’t interested in going the slow route through the FDA.
In the same interview, she said, “…remember that there have been many drugs that have actually gone through the FDA that have later after the gold standard been pulled because they were devastating to patients.”
What’s her proof? Deaths from adverse drug reactions are the 4th leading cause of death in the US. It out-kills pulmonary disease, diabetes, AIDS, pneumonia, accidents, and automobile deaths.
To quell the concerns would-be patients have with taking drugs, Parrish put herself on the company’s method of treatment, gene therapy. Their goal is to move faster than the FDA, but not with abandon.
Faster, Parrish asserts, “is not necessarily more dangerous.” In other words, as she puts it, “When your time comes, you will certainly wish that we would have moved faster.”
Laudable as her actions may be, one person does not the thorough study make. Parrish knows this. She is no Ponce de Leon. What may seem like an excuse to be the first to drink from the fountain of youth, her role as the first human trial is as much about leading from the front as anything.
There is no law preventing Parrish from testing on herself, not yet anyway. Nothing she is taking is a banned or illegal substance.
To learn about the process, however, BioViva will need to run thousands of in-vivo trials. To do that, they’ll need money, lots of it. To that end, they need investors.
Taking the first step to luring investors, Parrish demonstrates that she knows her product is at least not-harmful. What remains to be seen is if they are effective… maybe.
So Far So Good
The one year mark passed recently, and so far Parrish has grown no spare noses from gene therapy.
Those telomeres we talked about? As expected from the animal trials, the degradation of Parrish’s slowed, even reversed in production. She’s also shown an increase in muscle mass, something that has value outside of aging therapy.
Of her results, Parrish said, “…these are good indications that these therapies are working at a base level but now what we need to do is to get into human studies and actually prove that they will work over a general population and start treating people who are in the highest need now.”
As she is the first, everything is an educated guess. Educated, as they have data from animal studies, but the benchmark for dosage and frequency are all the best guess at this point.
Like I said, they need to expand their database at some point. What I know from my mentors in business is, sometimes you have to move slow so you can move fast later.
To look at Parrish you wouldn’t remark that she appears younger, so for anyone hoping to reclaim their pretty young face, it seems we’re not quite there. Then again, this is only a year in. Who knows what will happen to Parrish as her peers age around her.
Will she stay one apparent age? Time will tell, but what the team at BioViva is into may change all of our futures. All in good time, of course.
Source: Discover Magazine, ABC