Beauty from within claims for telomerase put to the test by lawsuit

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Telomerase activation sciences Cancer

A US company making a beauty from within supplement containing a telomerase active ingredient is being put to the test over its marketing claims by a former employee who has taken out a global class action lawsuit.

The lawsuit against Telomerase Activation Sciences claims that the company’s non-prescription TA-65 anti-ageing supplement is being marketed using bogus claims concerning its effectiveness and safety.

Specifically, former employee Brian Egan makes the claim that the supplement contains substances that can cause tumors which could lead to cancer in people who use it.

Former employee claims he was required to take the supplement

Egan was employed by the company in May of 2011 to help expand the TA-65 brand, and he claims he was required by his employer to take the supplement twice a day to prove to customers that he believed in the product.

He claims that he then informed the company that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in September, after which he was promptly fired. At the same time he says he was offered a cash sum to keep quiet about the cancer for fear that it could damage sales of the product.

The lawsuit has been filed with the New York Supreme Court and specifies Telomerase Activation Sciences as the defendants, claiming unfair and deceptive business practices specifically relating to the TA-65 brand and the telomerase activating agent.

The company is denying Egan's version of events, and says it will continue to market TA-65 using the same claims.

Lawsuit claims that telomares may have caused cancer

Specific to the cosmetics industry, the lawsuit questions the use of telomares in the product's formulation, stating that it is a possible link to the prostate cancer that Egan claims he was diagnosed with after taking TA-65.

“Defendants have failed to reasonably warn consumers of the potential dangerous consequences associated with TA-65 telomerase activation and malignant tumor formation,”​ the lawsuit states.

“Defendants have failed to disclose to the consumer public, including Plaintiffs, that cancer cells have the unique ability to turn on telomerase, and enzyme that elongates telomeres, preventing them from growing shorter and enabling cancer cells to divide and survive indefinitely. In fact, the association between tumor formation and telomerase activation is undisputed – about 90 per cent of tumors rely on telomerase to thrive.”

Although scientific experts have expressed doubts that Egan’s cancer can be directly linked to the telomerase activating agent in the formula, telomerase is known to be an attractive cancer target as it has been identified as being required in all tumours for the immortalization of cells, including those of cancer.

How telomeres and telomerase work...

A telomere is the region of highly repetitive DNA at the end of chromosomes that act as a buffer during chromosome replication. Such a buffer is necessary as the replication process cannot reach the ends of the chromosome - if the telomere buffer was not present then vital DNA information would be lost.

With each replication the telomeres get slightly shorter except when the telomerase enzyme is activated. However, in adult humans the enzyme is generally not active hence the shortening of the telomeres.

Telomerase is an enzyme involved in DNA replication, which, under certain circumstances, stops the telomeres from shortening. Shortening telomeres are thought to be involved in the ageing process, explaining the interest that the compound has received as a possible anti-ageing ingredient.

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