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May 13, 2022

Using an Endemic Virus as a Gene Therapy for Life Extension

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics, life extension

In a study printed in PNAS, researchers have shown that telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) can be given to cells in living mice through a viral vector, taking the idea of life-extending gene therapies from science fiction to reality.

Why a cytomegalovirus?

The human cytomegalovirus (CMV) is widely known as an endemic virus that, while usually asymptomatic, is known to cause with harmful effects in babies and older adults. However, some of its properties make this virus suitable for delivering gene therapies. As cytomegaloviruses can carry large genetic payloads and don’t overwrite the DNA of their host cells [1], replacing the genes of these viruses with beneficial DNA may be safer than approaches with more potential off-target effects; development in this area is ongoing, and a phase 1 human clinical trial has already been conducted [2].

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