A small clinical study in California has suggested for the first time that it might be possible to reverse the body’s epigenetic clock, which measures a person’s biological age.
For one year, nine healthy volunteers took a cocktail of three common drugs—growth hormone and two diabetes medications—and on average shed 2.5 years of their biological ages, measured by analyzing marks on a person’s genomes. The participants’ immune systems also showed signs of rejuvenation.
The results were a surprise even to the trial organizers—but researchers caution that the findings are preliminary because the trial was small and did not include a control arm.
“I’d expected to see slowing down of the clock, but not a reversal,” says geneticist Steve Horvath at the University of California, Los Angeles, who conducted the epigenetic analysis. “That felt kind of futuristic.” The findings were published on 5 September in Aging Cell.