Can the Study of Telomeres Spell the Secret to Anti-aging?

Inside the R&D departments of the world’s most impressive skincare brands, scientists are looking at new ways to tackle the aging problem. Hannah Gay investigates the work of telomeres in their impact on skin aging, recruiting founder of One Truth 818 Rachael D’Aguiar to explain the significance of telomere research and why clinicians should take notice.

Hannah Gay: What are telomeres, and why are they important when it comes to skin aging?

Rachael D’Aguiar: “Telomeres are protective caps on the tips of our DNA. Every time a cell divides these telomeres shorten until they reduce to 5000 base pairs and the cell cannot divide anymore and it dies. Essentially telomere shortening and cell division are the cellular ageing process. 

Understanding telomeres is so important when it comes to the skin because we need to work to maintain and if possible, lengthen them at all times.  Young cells produce collagen and elastin and have balanced melanocytes; older cells have none of these things! Once cells die (become senescent cells) there is no bringing them back yet so many products and treatments work to make you ‘look’ better by speeding up cell division and cell turnover.  This appearance is temporary while accelerating the biological ageing process.”

HG: In what ways can the right skincare help to slow or reverse signs of aging in the skin?

RD: “Firstly, it’s vital to make sure your skincare range is not accelerating the ageing process.  I don’t think ageing yourself faster to look better in the short term is what anyone believes they are signing up for!  Antioxidants can slow down the rate of telomere shortening by eradicating free radicals which have been shown to speed up [this process]. 

For the visual signs of ageing, skincare products that boost collagen and/or elastin can help with the appearance of ageing, although bolstering these actually has no effect on the actual biological age of your cells.  It is possible to [temporarily] look a little younger than your cells are by boosting these two things, but it is all cosmetic and eventually, when you have enough senescent or ‘zombie’ cells present it will all come crumbling down. I think people are misled that collagen and elastin are making them younger; it’s simply not accurate.

Going to the root cause of ageing and re-lengthening telomeres is the only way you can claim a true ‘anti’ ageing product as this is the only way to reverse the ageing process.”

“Antioxidants can slow down the rate of telomere shortening by eradicating free radicals which have been shown to speed up [this process].”

HG: I understand the brand’s product line centres on the inclusion of the ingredient TAM-818. Talk us through what this is and as a skincare formulator, how difficult a process it is to replicate this ingredient in batches of your product.

RD: “TAM-818 stands for Telomerase Activating Molecule 818 because it removes the repressor block on the telomerase gene so that the enzyme – telomerase – is activated and can be freely expressed and re-lengthen the telomere, thus undoing the biological ageing process.  The ‘818’ is a nod to Dr Bill Andrews’ tenacity as this molecule was the 314,818th ingredient he tested! 

It is an incredibly specialised molecule to recreate as it takes a 7 step synthesis process and we need highly skilled medicinal chemists to produce it.  Then we need to test every batch to ensure the process has been executed perfectly and that each batch activates the telomerase gene. So it’s still a very expensive and labour-intensive process even though we have been on the market for eight years now.  It’s one of the reasons we adopted the tagline ‘Scientific Skincare’.

Another challenge for us was formulating with a molecule that never existed before now, as we had to work out ourselves how to incorporate it with other ingredients while making sure nothing got in its way to penetrate deeply into a cell. Lucky for us no-one can easily reverse-engineer TAM-818 and it is patented so it could not be used by anyone other than us.”

HG: How do you effectively educate your clients on the significance of telomere research and the effectiveness of One Truth 818 products?

RD: “Most people don’t know what the ageing process looks like at a biological level, but because it all comes down to one thing – the telomere – it is quite easy to understand. I let [clients] know that the discovery of the telomere was awarded a Nobel Prize and that Dr Bill Andrews’ discovery of the telomerase enzyme and gene won him awards; it was touted as the biggest discovery since antibiotics!  Telomeres and Telomerase are major scientific breakthroughs and impacted the way scientists and the medical world understood ageing. 

For us skin professionals, cells with critically short telomeres are essentially responsible for the visible signs of ageing and pigmentation we see and senescent cells cause havoc to healthy functioning and actually encourage other cells to become senescent/die prematurely (hence the nick-name ‘zombie’ cells). The old mantra of the beauty industry – to increase cell turnover – is accelerating the ageing process.  To practice responsibly we need to keep up with science and re-educate our clients.”

Here’s our shortlist of anti-aging products with a focus on telomere recovery:

One Truth 818 Anti-Ageing Serum

One Truth 818 Anti-Ageing Serum, One Truth 818

SkinMTX TeloZyme Youth Activator

SkinMTX TeloZyme Youth Activator, Advanced Cosmeceuticals 1800 242 011

Synergie Skin Reclaim Age-Defying Moisturiser

Synergie Skin Reclaim Age-Defying Moisturiser (reformulated), Synergie Skin 1300 689 619

asap DNA Renewal Treatment with Telomere Protection

asap DNA Renewal Treatment with Telomere Protection, asap 1300 131 970

One Truth 818 Repair Telomere Support Capsules

One Truth 818 Repair Telomere Support Capsules, One Truth 818

Anesi Epigenesse Revitalizing Day Cream

Anesi Epigenesse Revitalizing Day Cream, International Beauty Supplies 02 9486 3211

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