Elizabeth Parrish, CEO of biotech startup BioViva, declared in the website Reddit having undergone an anti-aging gene therapy in a secret location in Latin America, dodging FDA controls. The American entrepreneur claims to be experimenting on herself a treatment against what she considers a disease: aging.
BioViva personnel affirms the procedure took place in mid-September in Colombia. Ms. Parrish wanted to stir a debate about the convenience of accelerating human medical trials, the excessive zeal of regulators and the fight against aging. Some former advisor of BioViva distanced himself from the company after this event, and reminded the public about the importance of extensive preclinical tests.
Ms. Parrish, 44, has become an active advocate of the anti-aging movement. She decided to practice the gene therapy overseas after evaluating how long and expensive would be the process for FDA approval of a treatment against something not even considered a disease.
Follistatin and telomerase injections to combat aging
George Church, a Harvard genomics expert and Bioviva´s advisor, does not agree with skipping health regulations, but recognizes that technology is advanced and cheap, accessible to those who are willing to receive gene therapy. Parrish claims to have used a commercial viral vector to inject in her body two genes that produce follistatin and telomerase. Follistatin increases muscle mass by blocking myostatin; telomerase extends telomeres and thus cell´s lifespan. BioViva bases its activity in sound scientific literature, like Maria Blasco´s study on telomerase gene therapy that increased mice lifespan by 20%. Dr. Church thinks it could work also in humans. Other people, some unlicensed, are currently using stem cells to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or telomerase for Alzheimer´s.
Dr. Fossell, entrepreneur and founder of Telocyte, doubts the treatment will have any effect, and disagrees with the way it was carried out, because any claims of effectiveness will not be trustworthy.
According to their website, BioViva is currently developing a series of affordable genetic therapies to restore the immune system, rejuvenate tissues and muscles, and remove dead cells and arterial plaques, among others.
Source: MIT TR