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J Exerc Rehabil Vol. 10, No. 1, 1-1, February, 2014
Publication date (electronic) : 2014 February 28
doi :
Department of Urology, Gachon University Gil Medical Center, 21 Namdong-daero 774beon-gil, Namdong-gu, Incheon 405-760, Korea

Elderly people may remember the drug peddlers who frequented the noisy country markets when they were growing up. Even though it was difficult to trust the peddlers, it was even more difficult to resist the temptation to buy their goods. They volubly emphasized that their products could be a silver-bullet potion for rejuvenation. Attracted to such suspicious advertisements, more than a few gullible people actually purchased such drugs composed of questionable contents.

Attraction to rejuvenation in the West was also significant. In the 19th century, the French physiologist Charles Edouard Brown Sekareuneun asserted that a crushed solution of healthy, fertile guinea pig and dog testicles injected into him regenerated his youth, and improved his stamina and intellectual ability. This helped to promote the scientific basis of the abovementioned examples. Sekareuneun was actually a recognized endocrinologist, and not a “quack”. An Austrian physiologist also suggested that tying the vas deferens to preserve male hormones could enhance rejuvenation. Nowadays, modern medicine suggests that this technique resembles the anejaculation, or “jeo-bi-bul-lu” technique, which is described in the ancient Chinese sexual bible, “Sonyeogyeong”. Such anejaculation leads to congestion of the prostate. In Russia, there is an even more bizarre story about a Russian surgeon who emerged as a pioneer in rejuvenation medicine. His method was to transfer monkey testicles to hundreds of men through transplantation,. For the hope of rejuvenation, this ridiculous experiment was performed repeatedly. We cluck our tongues with distaste when seeing the many people who still snoop around shops in search of folk aphrodisiacs such as snakes, gallbladder fluid of bears and the seal genitals, when they travel abroad.

In a recent study about telomere reactivation performed by Harvard scientists, the ageing process in mice could not only be slowed down, but even reversed, to their surprise. Now they believe that they might be able to regenerate human organs using such technology. The scientists bred genetically manipulated mice that lacked the enzyme telomerase, which prevents telomeres from getting shorter. Without the enzyme, the mice aged prematurely and suffered ailments, including a poor sense of smell, a decreased brain size, infertility, and damaged intestines and spleens. The key question is what significance this finding might have concerning therapies of age-related diseases in humans, and whether reversal of telomere erosion may induce rejuvenation. Whether it is feasible or not, the silver-bullet drugs and rejuvenation potions seem to follow such a hypothesis.

Although the ageing process is poorly understood, scientists do know that it is caused by many factors. There is some evidence that telomere erosion contributes to age-associated human pathology. However, it is definitely not the only, or even dominant cause, although it has been proven that ageing was accelerated in mice engineered to lack in telomerase. Other factors such as highly reactive particles called free radicals which are made naturally in the body cause damage to cells, as well as smoking, ultraviolet light, and other environmental factors. Another concern of telomerase reactivation is that it is a hallmark of most human cancers. Despite such revolutional discoveries, the obstacles we must overcome in order to find the key to rejuvenation are almost overwhelming, but through our effort, they may be surmountable.

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